Galapagos sharks are the top predator in the waters around Darwin and Wolf Islands in the Galapagos. On rare occasions, orcas make an appearance in these waters, and they are undisputed as the king of the ocean, but it is the Galapagos shark that occupies this position most of the time. The Galapagos shark is a large and bulky animal that preys on fish, sea lions, and even smaller sea turtles. They fear very little and they patrol these waters like they are in charge of their domain. This shark has taken interest in a scuba diver. It approaches slowly, making eye contact with a cold stare that lacks warmth or friendliness. In the eyes of sharks, new animals are quickly evaluated as either something to eat or something to ignore. This is the edge of Darwin Island and they are at a depth of 20m (60 feet). The scuba diver is photographing and video taping as she explores this beautiful and fascinating world. She sees a large shape approaching and she turns to face it. Despite the fact that these sharks rarely attack without provocation, it is unnerving to see such a large and powerful beast cruising straight toward you underwater. In comparison with almost all of the creatures that live here, humans are slow and clumsy. If a shark decided to attack, there would be little that a person could do in defense. But knowing that sharks are not the vicious creatures that they are reputed to be, the reaction of the scuba diver was one of wonder and awe, not fear. Sharks are magnificent and powerful animals that play a crucial role in our oceans. They keep the populations of other animals in check, ensuring the health of the entire underwater ecosystem. They even help keep specific populations healthy by ensuring that the weak or sick animals are not given an opportunity to reproduce. This is important for keeping gene lines strong in fish and other marine life. For scuba divers, a close encounter with a large shark like this is an experience that will never be forgotten.
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