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Cuddles and selfies for Port Jackson shark and her human best friend

Christopher Harris, August 3, 2017 6:13PM The Daily Telegraph

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Rick Anderson with the Port Jackson shark. media_cameraRick Anderson with the Port Jackson shark.

animals

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IT WAS love at first bite for Port Macquarie diving instructor Rick Anderson and the shark he met when she was just a few days old.

The shark is now fully grown and so enamoured* with her human chum, she still swims up for a cuddle years later.

The fishy friendship began when Mr Anderson was out with some dive students and saw a group of Port Jackson shark hatchlings* in the reef off Port Macquarie’s Nobbys Beach seven years ago.

“Just to show students how friendly sharks were, I coaxed* it into my hand and patted it,” he said.

“Then I saw it every couple of months and would give it a pat.”

Rick Anderson with his friend the Port Jackson shark. Picture: Rick Anderson media_cameraRick Anderson with his friend the Port Jackson shark. Picture: Rick Anderson

Now a 1.7m adult, the shark swims straight to Mr Anderson whenever he dives that same reef, where she still lives and which the instructor still regularly visits with his students.

Even in the middle of a group, she will swim through the other divers and begin nudging Mr Anderson���s leg until he notices and gives her a pat and a cuddle.

These days he sees the shark at least every two months or so, and recognises her through the individual markings on her head.

“Sharks aren’t dumb animals, they know what is going on, they know when the weather is going to turn bad,” he said.

Each time they enjoy a bit of a hug “hello” and a few pats before getting on with their respective days.

“But last time I saw her, she wrapped her tail around my back, she didn’t want me to go.”

Still, Mr Anderson was at a loss to explain the enduring* nature of the pair’s relationship, noting that the species was generally a shy creature that liked to hides in caves to avoid people.

Another Port Jackson shark. Picture Ian Donato media_cameraAnother Port Jackson shark. Picture Ian Donato

“They’re harmless, if they don’t like you they’ll let you know with a nip,” he said.

“This one I have never fed, but it is like a dog you know, it just wants some attention.”

GLOSSARY

enamoured: in love
hatchlings: creatures recently born from an egg

coaxed: persuaded

enduring: long lasting

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EXTRA RESOURCES

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UNDERWATER ART REVEALED

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DEEP DIVE INTO OCEAN ABYSS

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