Ocean Ramsey is a scuba instructor, model and freediver. She is also a passionate shark conservationist. In her efforts to change the world’s conception of these magnificent but fearsome predators, she swims with the massive fish whenever possible. Madness you might say…
She has swum with a total of 32 different shark species including the biggest of them all, the Great White.
Swimming with sharks
“Every story needs a villain, and after films like Jaws, its just too easy for most media to continue to manipulate the human psyche and ingrain a deeper more absurd terror,” she says. Her experiences have led her to perceive these great beasts more benignly. “It’s difficult to express the incredible joy and breathtaking emotion experienced locking eyes with a Great White shark. Watching the shark acknowledge and observe 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. Once I was on the dorsal or tail I could hear the movement of the water flying past my ears and I realized we were probably moving two knots.”
Look at the smile on the Great White’s face!
However, she does not advise everyone try and swim with sharks but her mission is to dispel myths about the amazing creatures which are under threat of extinction and she urges us to sign petitions that are being presented at CITES this month. Sharks are expected to dominate the 5-day meeting.
“While swimming with sharks is certainly a thrilling experience, my attraction to purposely come face to face with sharks such as Great Whites, Tigers and others is for a different reason – advocating shark conservation,” she wrote in a blog post at waterinspired.com. “Sharks are intelligent, calculated and generally very cautious about approaching humans. More importantly, sharks play a vital role in maintaining a healthy ocean ecosystem.
More than 100 million (100,000,000 – isn’t that appalling?) sharks are killed every year, mainly for their fins which are an Asian delicacy. This is unsustainable. “Sharks simply can’t keep up with the current rate of exploitation and demand,” said Boris Worm, a marine biologist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. “Protective measures must be scaled up significantly in order to avoid further depletion and the possible extinction of many species of shark in our lifetime,” he said. The summit will vote on whether to put the two most commonly finned sharks – the great and the smooth hammerhead sharks – on its protected list for the first time, along with the porbeagle shark, oceanic white tip shark, scalloped hammerhead shark and manta rays.
So what Ocean Ramsey is successfully doing with her videos which have gone viral is drawing our attention to their vulnerability and trying to dispel the myth that their aim in life is to eat human beings. Hats off to you Ms. Ramsey!
Ocean Ramsey being towed by a Great White