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  • When I was a child, I was afraid of a lot of things.
    Positively terrified would be a better description.
    My nightmares would scare some horror film writers!

    I had (still have) an over-active imagination, which I think was most of the problem.

    One of my 'hang ups' was that I was always scared of sharks, sea weed and dark shadows in the water.

    I had seen Jaws- and whilst I was constantly reassured that there were no sharks like that at our beach- I also knew there were exceptions.....to everything.......all the time.

    Just as I would catch myself relaxing- enjoying the water, splashing in the waves, my mind would snap back like a rubber band, sharply re-focussing on the fact that I could have let one get past me in those few seconds. Fearfully checking the water for shadows near my brother, checking the water back to shore was clear, then, and only then, would I go back to playing, breifly.

    Thankfully, over time, that all encompassing fear became but a murmur in my mind.

    I think it was only after built up experience over many years, of not seeining one single shark, that my brain allowed me to relax in the water.

    Many many years later, I joined the crew of a research vessel.
    We encountered sharks on a regular basis.

    My first encounter sticks firmly in my mind.

    We were going to try and tag some, we were going to collect data from them. I knew this, but my brain was in denial about this, which I found confusing and amusing.

    As Richard hauled the 200kg of muscle aborad the ship, the guys jumped on her to hold her; Jack attatched her tag. It took 3 grown men to hold her; 3 grown men to hold a 2m Grey Reef Shark.

    I stood there, in shock.

    I had things to do, I had things to record.

    But there it was.

    The object of my fear over all these years.

    A live shark.

    With teeth.

    I have studied them, dissected them, drawn them.

    And have a healthy respect for them.

    There it was.

    Thank goodness only a few seconds passed, while that all processed- that rubber band snapped again, back in the other direction this time - I calmly began taking my measurements, and observations of gills, dentition and fins, all the while in utter awe of this creature.

    Intrinsicly, I know it is a survival mechanism.
    Stay away from the dangerous thing that can eat you....

    But I conquered a childhood fear that day.

    Sharks don't scare me anymore.....or any less.
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