By Leo Black via SWNS
A professional diver who has enjoyed hundreds of encounters with sharks warns people should be FAR more afraid of jellyfish than the apex predators.
Kayleigh Grant, 35, became fascinated with the species after finding a shark's tooth on one of her first dives ten years ago.
She has approached the big hunters on hundreds of occasions, stroking their backs and fending them off with a simple palm to the snout.
But Kayleigh has seen far more, and the most severe injuries, caused by jellyfish.
@mermaid.kayleigh There isn’t much in the world that can make me as happy as a big #tigershark face coming at ya. Their presence is addicting. They are still wild animals & apex predators though, so don’t go without a trained professional #sharkdiving guide. 🦈💙 #sharkdiver #ocean #hawaii #swimwithsharks ♬ Close Encounters - HuntorPrey
She believes swimmers should not fear a shark attack unless they are swimming in murky water alone, and splashing around and panicking, at the sight of the creatures.
Jellyfish, however, are more worrying, she warns, as they are far harder to spot and don't have to target swimmers in order to injure them, as sharks do.
Kayleigh, from Kona, Hawaii, said: "On one of my first ever scuba dives I found a shark's tooth. I was hooked and began pursuing my dive masters.
"I find sharks absolutely beautiful and I understand that their role in the ecosystem as a predator is vital to the health of our oceans.
"They are actually pretty shy and calculated. When I go on a shark dive I always find it fascinating how they are more scared of us than we are of them.
"They aren’t the man eating monsters the media often portrays. The worst encounters with marine life I have witnessed is from jellyfish."
Kayleigh says she has never once feared she would be killed by the creatures despite spending hours at a time in deep water.
She added: "I have logged hundreds or even thousands of shark dives at this point.
"It’s incredibly rare for them to mistake us as their food. When we enter their home we do take a risk.
"That’s why through my videos I hope to show how to avoid a negative interaction with sharks."
Since her induction into diving, Kayleigh has made it her mission to rehabilitate the shark's image in the mind of the public.
She also underlines that sharks are predators and that they remain dangerous when a human enters their environment.
In a worrying encounter, she recommends staying calm, maintaining eye contact and putting something between yourself and the animal.
Kayleigh hopes that more people will become open to swimming with sharks and will re-think their perception of the animals.
She said: "People truly love to see the sharks and often change their perception of them after finally meeting one.
"The average person is probably scared or weary of sharks.
"They are top predators and very capable animals, so I can definitely understand where this fear comes from."
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