How far would you be willing to go to save an animal? Would you put your own life in danger? And would this apply to any animal, or would you only save the “cute” ones?
If you consider yourself to be quite the patron saint of animals, meet Cristina Zenato, who’ll blow your endeavors right out the water (no pun intended).
Cristina is a shark-lover. She doesn’t just watch them from afar – she dons a diving suit and hangs out with them in their own territory.
After spending so much time with her finned friends, Cristina started to notice that many of them had fishing hooks stuck in their mouths.
She knew that the hooks must be causing the sharks some pain, and so her new mission was born: to remove the hooks using hands that the sharks didn’t have.
There was only one flaw with this plan… it meant she’d have to put her fingers inside the mouths of the sharks.
Sharks have, on average, between 5 and 15 rows of teeth – with some having up to 3000 teeth in their mouths. The sharpest teeth grow longest and point outwards. Unlike other animals that bite only with their lower jaw, sharks bite with both their upper and their lower jaw. Ouch.
But Cristina knew that, despite the risks, she was the only person who could save the sharks. She had to put all of her trust into these underwater beasts, hoping that they’d realize that she was sticking her hand in their mouths for the greater good.
Miraculously, as Cristina began to save the sharks, they actually let her do it. One shark allowed Cristina to stick her hand right into the back of its mouth to pull out a hook. According to Cristina, the shark now visits her on ever dive, nudging her side in a friendly greeting.
And Cristina thinks that getting to see the results from pulling out the hooks makes it all worth it. Speaking in a video with The Dodo, she said:
“When I remove the hooks, I feel happy, satisfied and relieved. The other thing I notice is that as I start removing hooks from my known sharks, other sharks start showing up with hooks.”
Perhaps word is out on the underwater grapevine that Cristina is on a hook-removing mission. Of course, like any animals, sharks can communicate with one another.
After spending so much time in their company, Cristina is convinced that sharks have been given a bad rap. She said:
“They’re very accepting. Sharks in general, in the world, are very tolerant of our presence entering their world.”
Cristina’s sharks certainly seem very tolerant of her, allowing her to pet them and circling around her in a friendly manner. Perhaps this is because they can sense Cristina’s love for them.
Since she the first time she ever saw one, Cristina had wanted to pet a shark. But it would take a year before she could transition between being a diver and being a professional who worked with sharks. When the moment finally came, Cristina found that she was hooked (sorry).
Cristina developed an appreciation for the vulnerability of the sharks who visited her, and she considers them some of her best friends. Good on her – not everyone would be brave enough to hang out with a shark, let alone pull hooks out of multiple sharks’ mouths on a daily basis!
Could you be as daring for Cristina in her plight to save the sharks? Check out the video of her in action below.
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