It has happened more times than I can count: someone will ask me what my favorite animal is, they’ll notice the two tattoos I have of sharks, or one of my kids will talk about how much mommy loves sharks…and I’ll get the look. That look that says, “Seriously, woman, what is wrong with you?!?” They just can’t figure out how I can be so passionate about loving something that seems so cold and terrifying. After all, they are nothing more than mindless killing machines, right?
Oh … so very wrong.
I remember my first shark sighting very clearly. I was five years old, and my parents took me to SeaWorld Orlando. I don’t remember anything of the old Shark Encounter, except for the theater. (It is quite possible that so many years ago, that theater was all there was anyway!) At that age, I didn’t really like theaters, and I distinctly remember telling my parents I wanted to leave, but we kept going anyway. There was a movie, narrated by none other than William Shatner. (I have tried finding this, but unlucky so far – wouldn’t it be a hoot?) When the movie was over, the screens rose every-so-slowly to reveal a tank with the most beautiful creatures I’d ever seen swimming so gracefully. When most little girls at that age were pretending they were ballerinas, I pretended I was a shark swimming my own choreographed dance with other sharks.
I became obsessed. I drew pictures of sharks, asked my daddy to tell me stories about sharks. We didn’t have Google back then, but we did have an Encyclopedia Britannica that I would search out all the entries on sharks and read over and over until I had them memorized. When we went to the beach, I would beg to swim out further and further and would hope to see a shark in the ocean. I even begged my parents to make my bedroom into a tank so that I could have sharks all the time, but that one didn’t go over so well!
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