Scuba diving is a sport that opens the door to a world of wonder and beauty that is beyond description. The adventurous can strap on an air supply and slip into the depths to witness nature and animals unlike anything that we see on the surface. To watch animals interact with each other in their own environment is fascinating. But sometimes, it is not the animals that are on display for us to see. Sometimes it is us who are on display for them. This is the case with these scuba divers who have just entered the water to begin their dive in the Galapagos Islands. They are quickly equalizing, adjusting to the pressure of the water at depth when a large Galapagos shark appeared to inspect them with fascination. Sharks are able to smell blood and other substances at great distances. They can detect vibration and assess an animal's overall health by the way they move. From far away, they can detect an injured fish by the unusual thrashing or struggling. And they can even detect a rapid heartbeat, signaling that an animal is reacting in a stressful manner. These cues give the shark a sense of whether an animal might be food or not. This large shark is curious and it is possible that it senses an opportunity for a meal, but it is highly unlikely that the shark is considering biting the humans. But even so, the sight of a shark coming directly toward you underwater is unnerving. Humans are clumsy and slow moving in this domain. If a shark did decide to bite any of these divers, there is very little that they could do to prevent it. The shark is powerful, agile, and a capable predator. Fortunately, sharks almost never attack humans, unless provoked. These scuba divers know that the shark will look them over and move on. The shark may also be hoping that the divers are spearing fish. A large shark will not hesitate to steal a fish off a spear. They will also try to grab a fish that might be distracted by a diver. But, as predicted, the shark quickly decided that there was nothing worth hanging around and a brief pass was all that it needed. This encounter provided an opportunity for spectacular footage and a memorable dive. But if a 10 foot animal with hundreds of razor sharp teeth and a stone cold stare looks you in the eye, it's an experience that will leave you at least a little shaken.
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