Divers describe their close brush with a tiger shark as a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Cassie Jensen, the photographer the shark approaches in the video, embraces shark diving as a hobby.
“I used to be really afraid of swimming because of sharks,” she says. “When I picked up diving, I was intimidated because of how the media portrays them, but the first time I saw a shark in the water, all I wanted to do was see them more!”
The group of divers in the West Palm Beach, Florida, area names and tracks the sharks they swim with in the interest of conservation and awareness. Jensen said she easily recognised the shark in the video.
“This is DJenny. She has a little freckle above her eye on the left side. It’s one of her identifying traits,” Jensen says. “Her name was originally Denny because they thought she was a male, but then they realised she was a female, and Denny became DJenny.”
This particular encounter made Jensen feel as though she had a connection with DJenny.
“It was an absolutely incredible experience. I have never had another like it,” she says. “I had the sense that she was going to come up to see me from the bottom. As I was thinking that, she turned vertical and came up straight from the darkness up to touch my camera.”
DJenny the tiger shark approaches the photographer in an experience the photographer describes as once in a lifetime. "We both trusted each other, and I felt at one with nature in its rawest form," she says.
PHOTOGRAPH BY CASSIE JENSEN
Tiger sharks are known to eat a wide variety of items (including garbage and antlers). They’re also responsible for more attacks on people than any other shark save the great white.
“We like to call them very curious,” Jensen says. “They love shiny things, and our tanks are shiny. They love electromagnetic things, and our cameras give off electromagnetic pulses.
“Much as a dog would go and sniff another dog, a shark will come in, watch us, smell us, feel for us with their electromagnetic sensors, and if there’s something shiny that looks like the belly of a fish, they will test it with their teeth.”
Still, Jensen says she has never seen violence or antagonism from a shark; in fact, the sharks are usually wary when they see human beings in their midst.
“We’re scary-looking to them. We’re big, and we have all these bubbles coming out of us.
They circle around the perimeter to look out for any danger. They want to make sure we’re not going to hurt them.”