Diving ‘dentist’ has removed 250 fish hooks from Caribbean reef sharks

Dec 1, 2018

Dentists often get a bad rap for their usual “boring” job, where you sit in a chair and try to talk to the dentist, while they have their hands in your mouth. And seemingly the most dangerous thing these much-sought-after doctors will encounter might be getting their fingers bitten by the patient!

But Christina Zenato’s patients are not ordinary, and her office just happens to be underwater. Meet this brave lady who works in the Bahamas being a “dentist” to sharks.

Happiness is…Image Chris MillbernSurfacing from diving with my babies

Posted by Cristina Zenato on Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Zenato has always loved the ocean and sea creatures.

“My dream job was to be an underwater scuba ranger. Go go roam around the oceans of the world and make sure the reef is protected. And I will have sharks for friends,” Zenato says in the video by The Dodo.

Ready to cave dive on the Nat Geo Abaco Blue Holes ExpeditionsThank you Maria Fadiman for this capture.

Posted by Cristina Zenato on Monday, February 27, 2017

Zenato recalls, one day in 1994, she booked a trip to the Bahamas and went on to a scuba dive training camp. On one dive, she got to feed sharks—and that left its mark on her.

She came back from her trip with a new mission in her life. She packed up her things and told everyone she would be gone for a year, and that was 24 years ago.

The "tonic picture" by amazing friend and photographer Eddy Raphael

Posted by Cristina Zenato on Sunday, April 24, 2011

Zenato eventually became a certified scuba instructor and began learning about shark behavior.

In the years she has been doing this, she says she can read the sharks better than her own dogs and has earned the nickname the “Shark Whisperer.”

“I can see when a shark is having an uncomfortable day, and I can tell when the sharks are mellow,” Zenato says in the video. “I do recognize each and every one of them.”

After years of studying the sharks’ behavior and building a rapport with them, she has gotten to the point where they are comfortable enough with her that she can remove the various hooks that might be bothering the sharks.

“With the right knowledge and understanding, I think it’s one of the safest animals in the wild to be with,” she says.

To date, she has removed around 250 hooks from the mouths of sharks over the last fifteen years, according to BNQT.

Happy on the surface with the hooks removed

Posted by Cristina Zenato on Tuesday, June 19, 2018

“Any day I spend in the water with sharks beats anything else for me,” she says.

Zenato was inducted into the Women Divers Hall of Fame in 2011. She believes there is great power in education and volunteers time to teaching students from around the world.

She says: “There’s no shark-infested waters. The waters belong to them and we need sharks in the waters. These are the ambassadors and they are my sharks and I will take care of them as much as I can.”

 

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