By Alex Jones
INCREDIBLE photos show a fearless shark diver who puts his hands in SHARKS’ MOUTHS almost EVERY DAY to help retrieve hooks and barbs from the apex predators – and he’s NEVER been bitten.
Remarkable photographs of the thoughtful shark enthusiast show him fending off overly curious sharks with his camera, gently patting one of the world’s most dangerous sharks on the nose, and feeding a massive silky shark by hand.
Captain John Moore (53) – who runs ‘swim with sharks’ boat trips off the coast of Jupiter, Florida – is keen to be a positive voice for sharks, and hopes to show the world at large that sharks don’t deserve to be portrayed as man-eating killers.
“I used to be a spearfisherman and frankly, sharks used to be a bit of an annoyance as they kept trying to steal all of my catches,” said Moore, who spent his teenage years living on a sailboat with his family.
“But the more time I spend with them, the more fascinated I grew and now I absolutely love them.
“They’re beautiful creatures, not interested in us as food at all, and they’re super smart. Almost every day I find a shark with a hook in its mouth or trapped in some sort of packaging. They’ll get feisty when I’m working the hook out but once it’s gone, their attitude changes completely and they’ll hang around just gawping at me and bobbing around – they definitely know what’s happening and show their gratitude in their own way. It happened to me with a huge lemon shark just the other day.
“They’re intelligent – sometimes a shark will have seen me and my boat maybe once or twice before but they still know their best chance of getting fed is with me! As soon as they see me, they’ll swarm over. I take my crate of tuna chunks down and hand feed them to get some really good and close shots. I’m always respectful though, I’ve never been bitten or attacked and nor has any of our customers at Florida Shark Diving.”
Many of Moore’s customers are first-timers when it comes to shark diving, and although there is a cage on his boat, he loathes using it, preferring his clients to get the full shark dive experience.
“Nobody uses the cage if I can help it,” smiled the 53-year-old.
“Everyone starts off nervous but after they’ve had the briefing, seen me and another diver go into the water and how the sharks respond to us, the nerves drop away. Sharks are definitely more scared of us than we should be of them. Over ninety-five per cent of people are in the water with the sharks having a great time after the first minute or two.
“Take the bull shark, probably my favourite species. It’s responsible for a significant number of sharks across the globe, but if you know what you’re doing and where you’re doing it, they’re really wonderful creatures. If visibility is low – in murky water or in the surf – then bull sharks will usually ‘test bite’ something they run into, out of curiosity as opposed to bloodlust. As long as you’re in clear water, you’re fine.”
However, respect for sharks is important both in and out of the water, Moore believes.
“Florida is still the largest distributor of shark fins in the US,” laments the shark diver who uses Instagram handle @captainjohnmoore.
“New legislation is being passed but we can still do more to protect our seas, reduce our plastic use, and be more careful with our fishing practises.
“Sharks need positive voices, the more the better. We won’t get a second shot at this.”