Boy Swimming With Pet Shark Photo A Favorite in National Geographic Contest

The winner of the National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest has not yet been announced, but the photo of a boy swimming with his “pet shark” has emerged as a definite fan favorite. An Indonesian boy named Enal riding on the tail of a nurse shark is both extremely unusual and oddly beautiful. Photographer James Morgan captured a rare moment between a human and a creature typically considered dangerous. The Indonesian image quickly became the standout among the more than 9,000 submissions in the National Geographic contest.

Although the nurse shark does not strike the same fear as a “Jaws-esque” Great White, the small shark’s sharp teeth and strong jaws still make the creature potentially dangerous, according to Florida Museum of Natural History remarks published by the Huffington Post. The wide-eyed look of amusement and huge smile on little Enal’s face clearly depicts pure delight and not fear. Nurse sharks are native to the Pacific and Indian Oceans and often found in seagrass beds and in shallow waterways. Unfortunately, extensive fishing in their native habit landed the nurse shark on the Red List of vulnerable and threatened species.

The “Enal with Pet Shark” National Geographic contest submission is listed in the Spontaneous Moments category and is garnering a host of “likes” on Facebook. According to the photograph’s description Enal is a “young sea nomad” from Sulawesi, Indonesia. Morgan also notes that marine nomadism has “almost completely disappeared” from South East Asia due to severe marine degradation. The photographer believes that children from the region have “stories hat could prove pivotal” in the contemporary realm of marine conservation.

If you have an extraordinary vacation photo you would like to share with the world, the National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest is accepting submissions until July 11.