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Thread: How to overcome a fear of deep water?

  1. #41
    I am not SCUBA certified (maybe some day if I'm lucky) but I am familiar with the animals. I think the advice here has been great and I'd like to add 1 more suggestion to it all. Get to know the animals that you fear... before you may encounter them in a wild habitat. Knowing and understanding the animal takes the fear right away. As a kid I was fascinated by but feared sharks. Mind you, I don't and have never lived near enough to the ocean to encounter them in the wild... but have always wanted to. The movies didn't help with that unfounded fear, but once I started working WITH the animals I learned an intense passion and love for them that is unlike anything else I have ever known.
    My first hands on encounter with any shark was a small, 3 ft Bali cat shark in a large aquarium. As I studied the species on an academic level I was then able to observe the real thing in person, and the desire to interact came quickly. It took about 3 wks before I was feeding that shark by hand. Horned sharks were next, and then I moved onto banded cat sharks, and eventually leopard sharks and nurse sharks, etc. (larger species, larger specimens). Knowing what they felt like, knowing how they reacted to just my hand in the water, made such a HUGE difference in my perception of them.
    It's one thing to hear about them, learn about them... but totally something else to actually have some kind of contact with them. There are many places around the country where direct interaction with some species or other is possible. I would urge you to seek those out while you progress with your SCUBA and diving overall.
    This same approach works with most animals and is very popular with things such as reptiles, which are super high on most people's list of fears. I have worked for years teaching people to overcome their fear of snakes, and the hands on approach is the #1 more successful way to do it. There are a lot of misconceptions about "dangerous animals" such as "snakes are slimy", which is not true. You can tell someone til you're blue in the face that they aren't slimy, but they're not likely going to believe it until they can feel it for themselves. The general reaction to this is awe and wonder rather than enhanced fears, and that's all it takes is an open door to learn what these animals REALLY are. The same applies to sharks, fish, etc.

    So if you can find a way to actually interact with these animals in a controlled environment, as you learn about them (scientific truth, not movies and people's "scare stories") your fears will slowly subside and may just turn into the same awe, wonder, and great respect that I and so many others have learned. ANY animal can bite, but knowing what causes an animal to bite is the easiest way to prevent it. Knowing and understanding an animal's habits and instincts will help you learn via observation to understand their movements, their reactions, and eventually you will progress to being able to predict what they will do/how they will react to certain circumstances.
    The MN Zoo has a shark touch tank that is incredible for making first contact with small leopard and other small species of sharks. The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago has a tank where a diver goes into the tank and interacts with the sharks and rays while talking with the audience. To see a diver petting and feeding these animals is also very reassuring and helps to ease fears. I would imagine in CA there has to be something available for you to seek out some kind of interaction if you look for it. Most sharks are not only fearful of people, but incredibly curious and docile animals. I only hope that some day I am able to enjoy a shark dive. I absolutely adore them!

  2. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by SeaMonkey View Post
    sharks have bad eyesight
    Just wanted to say, SeaMonkey, that most sharks can see rather well. Their eyes are adapted for seeing in low light conditions (i.e. in deep water) at the expense of being able to focus and see detail well.

    They can see in 10x lower light conditions than humans can, but can't see detail as well.

    More info. here:

  3. #43
    Senior Member Pod of Texas Seatan's Avatar
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    They do tend to rely more on other senses, though, senses we humans don't have!
    Once upon a time I was known as Seavanna. Going by Seatan these days. I always wanted to be the high lord of underwater hell.


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