Sharks are a crucial and very welcome part of the underwater world. Without them, our oceans would be in serious trouble, as would all life under the waves, and even life above the surface. We need them. We also admire them and live in awe of them. But many of us still fear them. They are capable and formidable predators and we understand that they could cause us great harm with little effort. Yet, they rarely attack humans and we are safer in the water with them than most people would believe. These scuba divers are anchored at a remote site off Darwin Island in the Galapagos. The boat has left civilization to take these adventurers to an uninhabited corner of the planet where life has evolved and changed on its own schedule, largely unaffected by the world around them. Sharks rule here and they swim in these waters in massive numbers. Galapagos sharks, hammerheads, and silky sharks like these keep the population of many other creatures in check. Even orcas roam freely here in the surprisingly cold currents that converge near the equator. The scuba divers on this boat have been enjoying a magnificent underwater theatre full of hammerhead sharks, whale sharks and schooling fish. They enter the water and then return to this boat which serves as their floating hotel while the explore one of the most stunning and beautiful places imaginable. But as they rested between dives, they noticed that the water around their small cruise ship was full of sleek, grey animals. Initially, they thought they were watching dolphins that had come to visit. Yet the large creatures didn't surface as dolphins would. They dangled a camera overboard on a piece of string to capture footage of their visitors. When they watched the footage, they were thrilled, and a little intimidated to see that the figures below were curious sharks that patrolled curiously just beneath their boat. These are silky sharks and they are abundant in waters such as the Galapagos. Aggressive and persistent hunters, they are potentially dangerous to humans who carelessly venture too close, but attacks are rare and seasoned scuba divers know to keep a respectful distance and to avoid being too close to the sharks' food sources. These large animals grow to a length of almost 3m (8.2 feet) and they have powerful jaws and many rows of sharp teeth. They are one of the bolder sharks. Even dolphins show them considerable respect when their competitive hunting brings them in close contact. Like all ocean animals, they are far more agile and capable in the water than we are. Humans are well advised to show all sharks proper respect to avoid serious consequences.
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