Footage shows a shark conservationist Ocean Ramsey swim up to a massive great white shark in the waters of Hawaii to caress the creature and even grab hold of its fin to hitch a free ride.
Ramsey, based in Honolulu, is an advocate for shark preservation. She released this footage on St. Valentine's Day to express her love for sharks.
She approaches the shark quietly and touches its body and then caresses it. She grabs its dorsal fin and rides in the water with it.
The Daily Mail reports that the petite blond's encounter with the great white shark was captured by ocean photographer Juan Oliphant, after she was dropped into the sea in a cage. The photographer used a HD HERO2 camera, the Daily Mail reports. Before she exits the cage, she watches the shark carefully to judge its reaction to her presence. When she judges it is safe, she approaches the animal quietly and steadily. As soon as she is convinced that the shark is not unduly disturbed by her approach she closes in.
She wrote in a posting to WaterInspired.com: "Many people fear sharks and have unfortunately only seen them portrayed on TV and in films as mindless man-eating machines. In truth, sharks are intelligent, calculated and generally very cautious about approaching humans."
She describes her encounter with the great white shark, saying: "The shark acknowledges and observes me, while I peacefully and calmly allowed it to swim towards me, and then experiencing it accepting my touch, allowing me to dorsal and tail ride... The connection felt as I repeatedly pet and hitched a ride on several of these sharks reminded me of my experience with horses."
Ocean Ramsay swims with great white shark
Ramsay says that when she goes for a free dive, that is, without an oxygen tank, she keeps her heart rate slow and she avoids breathing heavily so as not to create bubbles which alarm the shark.
Photographer Oliphant told The HuffPost Live that they take care not to scare the sharks away with strong lights. The keep as still as possible and avoid any commotion in the water. He said: "You have to get the animal to trust you, they're very reserved, they're very cautious. They spook really easy." He added: "The great whites are keenly aware when they're being watched, they are worried and scared."
Ramsey said her free diving experience with sharks began at a tender age of 14. She can stay underwater without oxygen for as long as 5 min and 45 seconds. She grew up in Hawaii and San Diego where she had plenty of opportunity for diving experience. She is now a scuba instructor and advocates for shark protection.
She said: "Sharks do need to be respected as wild animals and appreciated for their role as top predators in the ocean ecosystem."
Great white sharks are among the most feared of sharks, thanks mostly to Steven Spielberg's film Jaws. They are distinguished by their size, with some growing up to 20 feet in length and 5,000 lbs in weight
They are aggressive predators feeding on other fish and seabirds.