AN AMERICAN family is making waves this morning after a video of their five-year-old daughter swimming with sharks went viral.
When Elana and David Barnes posted a home video to YouTube of their daughter swimming in the ocean, they intended to share their holiday memories with friends and family, not the world.
But the video quickly became a viral sensation because it shows their daughter, Anaia, not just frolicking in the water but snorkeling with sharks in the waters off the Bahamas.
Little Anaia Barnes, an instructor and her parents swam alongside the sharks.
"At no point did I feel like this is dangerous, like going on a rollercoaster, I'm probably not going to fall off, but it's still scary," said Anaia's mother, Elana Barnes, told Good Morning America.
"To each his own, but I would prefer to keep my kids out of the water with sharks if I can," said Kristen Vesey of Brookfield.
Shark experts at the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, US had mixed feelings about how safe or dangerous this scenario really was.
"Would I intentionally do that? I honestly don't know, I'd probably be a little bit more cautious myself," said John Lenzycki, who has worked with sharks for 24 years.
He says last year there were less than 100 unprovoked shark attacks worldwide and says 90 percent of them happen in three feet of water or less. What concerns him are the sharks are being fed by people, so he says the animals associate people with food.
"I wouldn't want to be that person standing in the lagoon at 11 o'clock in the morning and that particular person called in sick that day," he said.
Also, the Barnes swam alongside Nurse sharks, which Lenzycki says are very mild tempered. While lemon and reef sharks are higher on the predatory scale.
"But still sharks are not mindless eating machines, they tend to be extremely cautious about what they eat," he said.
Still the nurse shark touch tank at the Norwalk Maritime Aquarium is close enough for this mom.
"It's a situation where you don't know what could happen so, why put them in harms way," Vesey said.
"Life is too short to be boring you know," Barnes said.
"After reviewing the video with our fish and invertebrate team, we feel that it would be too speculative to comment on the safety of the situation," said Mystic Aquarium spokesperson Erin Merz.
Some Shark Facts
"At no point did I feel like this is dangerous, like going on a rollercoaster, I'm probably not going to fall off, but it's still scary"
The following is a statement Barnes made in regards to the families choice to let Anaia swim with sharks:
"We always take safety very seriously in our family. Anaia knows not to get near a bike without a helmet, she was rear-facing in her car seat until age 3. At a very early age she knew not to approach a dog without asking it's owner. We teach her to respect all the creatures we share this planet with. Not all sharks are created equally, they vary as much as canines do. If someone is concerned about this, they can do the same research we did before booking this trip. I also would like to point out that at no time was Anaia more than five feet away from us, or closer than 20 feet from the sharks."
_ KindyNews is a fun and interesting news publication for parents of kids aged seven and under. It is also the place to go for all your eco friendly baby product needs!