Australian diver forms years-long friendship with cuddle-loving shark

By Ben Hooper  |  Jan. 19, 2017 at 11:25 AM
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Jan. 19 (UPI) -- An Australian scuba diver who encountered a Port Jackson shark pup seven years ago said the shark now frequently visits him underwater for cuddle sessions.

Rick Anderson, proprietor of Rick's Dive School, said the 6-foot shark is easily recognizable from her markings and she always approaches him when they encounter one another off the coast of Nobbys Beach in New South Wales

"I started playing with her about seven years ago when she was just a pup about 6 inches long," Anderson told The Dodo. "I approached her carefully so as not to spook her, then began to gently pat her. Once she got used to me, I would cradle her in my hand and talk soothingly to her through my regulator."

He said the encounter led to a long-term friendship.

"I did this each time in the first season she was here," he said. "Then over the following seasons, she'd recognize me and would swim up to me for a pat and cuddle. She soon got used to me — to the point where she will swim up to me when I'm going past, and tap me on the legs until I hold my arms out for her to lay on for a cuddle."

Anderson posted photos to Facebook showing him hugging and cuddling with the shark.

"Most divers seeing this for the first time can't believe it," he said. "I don't feed her or any of the other sharks I play with -- I basically treat them like I would a dog."

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