Meet an Incredible Woman Who Has Removed 300 Hooks from Shark Mouths

Written by Kellianne Matthews
Updated: October 1, 2023
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The first time Cristina Zenato saw a shark, she wanted to pet it! And that’s exactly what she did. As a professional diver, Zenato has worked face-to-face with 12 different species of sharks all over the world. But that’s not all—this video shows how this incredible woman not only dives with sharks but has also removed 300 hooks from shark mouths!

The first words of the video say it all, as Zenato announces, “I love my sharks”. Zenato has been working with Caribbean Reef Sharks in the Bahamas for the past 25 years. When she first started diving with sharks, she noticed that many of them had fishhooks protruding from their mouths. She wanted to help them, because as she explains in the video, “It started like anything starts when you love someone. I just wanted to make their lives a little bit better, to relieve their pain”.

That’s when we are introduced to a shark named “Foggy-Eye”. Foggy-Eye swam up to Zenato one day with a fishhook stuck deep inside her mouth. Now, most people would stop right there, but not Zenato. She puts her entire arm inside the shark’s mouth!

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Don’t worry, Zenato is wearing a specialized chainmail shark-proof suit. She successfully pulls the hook out of the shark’s mouth before it swims away. A few minutes later, however, Foggy-Eye comes back and let Zenato pet her. That’s right, this incredible woman not only removes hooks from shark mouths—she even personally comforts her patients!

Foggy-Eye continued to show up each time Zenato went for a dive. She would even swim up to Zenato like an oversized underwater dog. Zenato says, “All of the sudden I’d feel pressure on my hip, and I would turn around and she would be leaning into me and just stop swimming”.

We see Zenato continually removing hooks from various shark mouths. She says that after a while, new sharks that she didn’t recognize began to show up. Sharks from other areas somehow knew this was the place to come to get a fishhook removed.

In the video, Zenato says that people often ask her if sharks communicate, and she responds with a very enthusiastic “YES!” She also says that sharks are “very accepting. Sharks in general, in the world, are very tolerant of our presence, entering their world. It’s understanding that it’s done on the shark’s terms, not on mine. Because every time a shark does that, I realize what a privilege it is. This is a wild animal and she’s giving me full trust”.

Throughout the video there are multiple shots of Zenato sitting on the ocean floor with her sharks. They look almost like best friends just hanging out on a lazy summer afternoon. At one point she even pets two different sharks as they snuggle up on her lap!

The video ends with one last bit of wisdom from Zenato: “Like my parents taught me, ‘There are no monsters in the sea, only the ones we make up in our heads”.

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About the Author

As a professional writer and editor for many years, I have dedicated my work to the fascinating exploration of anthrozoology and human-animal relationships. I hold a master's degree with experience in humanities, human-animal studies, ecocriticism, wildlife conservation, and animal behavior. My research focuses on the intricate relationships and dynamics between humans and the natural world, with the goal of re-evaluating and imagining new possibilities amid the uncertainty and challenges of the Anthropocene.

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