For some reason, this old clip of Valerie Taylor hand-feeding a great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) has recently been making the rounds online this week. The footage in the clip is from the Australian Geographic documentary “Shadow of the Shark.” The clip was posted on YouTube almost two years ago, but this week it has had a surge in views and has been featured on few high-traffic blogs, including Comedy Central’s Tosh.0.
The video clip shows Taylor feeding fish to a white shark and at one point patting the shark on the snout. Taylor says that she felt like she had an “understanding” with this particular white shark and thought that they could get along “quite nicely.” Taylor does point out that she did not have the same feeling with some other white sharks.
It should go without saying that white sharks are wild animals. One could make the argument that this footage and other footage of humans interacting with sharks help dispel the myth that sharks are simply “mindless killing machines.” However, the title of the YouTube video claiming that Valerie’s hand-feeding is “evidence” that great white sharks are “peaceful” is nothing short of anthropomorphism.
It should also be noted that Valerie Taylor (along with her husband Ron) have a great deal of experience being around white sharks. Hand-feeding a wild animal isn’t a wise idea for the average Joe/Jane…in other words, “kids, don’t try this at home.”