AFRICANGLOBE – A new YouTube video titled “Taming the Untamed” shows a female diver apparently courting disaster by sitting on the ocean floor and stroking a large shark as it rests its head on her lap.
A caption accompanying the 33-second-long clip says that professional diver Cristina Zenato, 42, calmly called the shark towards her “like a puppy dog.”
The video depicts the Caribbean reef shark lying motionless on the seabed, seemingly mesmerised by Zenato’s touch, while other large fish swim in the background.
The surprising footage was captured last month during Bahamas Underwater Photo Week, an annual event that invites underwater photographers to shoot simultaneously and produce a “photographic documentary of underwater life.”
Zenato, the dive team manager at the Underwater Explorers Society (UNEXSO) on Grand Bahama Island, reportedly put the shark into a trance-like state using a little-known technique of rubbing the “ampullae of Lorenzini,” the hundreds of jelly-filled pores around the shark’s snout and mouth.
The massage-like technique is said to induce “tonic immobility,” a condition in which the shark enters a natural state of paralysis for up to 15 minutes and seems to be asleep.
While rubbing the pores reportedly produces this hypnotic effect, their usual function is to act as electroreceptors detecting prey moving in the electromagnetic field surrounding the shark.
Zenato uses the technique to subdue sharks to educate other divers. She has also pressed it into service to remove parasites and has harnessed it to take out fishing hooks caught in their mouths.
After working with sharks for nearly two decades, Zenato still puts safety first by wearing a chain link suit in the event of an unexpected attack.
The master diver and shark expert has worked with prestigious international organisations including the BBC, National Geographic, Discovery, ABC, and Science and Nature.