An Australian spearfisherman recently encountered a wild tiger shark while diving at an offshore reef, yet rather than flee the water, he approached the predator, reaching out to pet it.
Rick Trippe, who hails from Darwin, encountered the tiger shark on Tuesday at Bass Reef, which is located some 55 km to the east of the city, according to the ABC. Shortly after entering the water to film a trout, Trippe observed the outline of a shark approaching his position. Though at first unsure of the species, he was able to determine as the the animal came closer that it was a two-meter-long tiger shark.
“I couldn’t make out what it was at first. What species of shark,” he recalled. “As it came in close I realized it was a tiger shark.”
Trippe filmed the shark as it approached, making several passes underneath him. Though he was far enough away from his nearby boat to cause concern for most divers, Trippe nevertheless reached out to touch the predator’s tail and back as it swam by. Noting it’s body language, he asserted that he could tell the tiger shark wasn’t in a dangerous frame of mind. Still, he allowed that he felt concerned while in the water with the shark.
“Aggressive mode is when their backs are arched and their fins are out and they look very cranky and it’s [time to] get out of the water straight away.”
Tiger sharks are common predators in the region surrounding Australia, and recently, several massive specimens have been caught in the country. As Business Insider notes, an angler in New South Wales landed a massive tiger shark, weighing nearly 1,000 pounds earlier this month, by hand. Max Muggeridge, 19, fought the shark for over three hours, bringing the predator on to a beach and photographing it before quickly releasing it. In March, another Australian fisherman caught a tiger shark of similar size from Shelley Beach, as the Inquisitr previously reported.
— Daily Mail Australia (@DailyMailAU) April 9, 2015
Though tiger sharks can be dangerous, and are considered to be one of the species most likely to attack human beings, researchers believe that the vast majority of those interactions are attributable to confusion on the part of the shark. For his part, Trippe observed that he wouldn’t have entered the water with the shark if he thought the predator was overly dangerous. Recalling his interaction with the tiger shark, he described it as a “stunning” animal.
[Image: Rick Trippe via Twitter]