One Shark Heals: Captain Ron's Recovery

Posted on April 21, 2011
Written by: Jim Abernethy

20110421_01_captainronhealed.jpgIn "Saving Sharks: One hook at a time" I introduced Captain Ron and talked about how I removed a fish hook from his jaw. Last week I went back for a visit with Captain Ron to see how he was doing. He was very affectionate, and swam right up to me to let me examine his wound, which is almost completely healed. You wouldn't even notice it if you didn't know where to look, so I circled it in red.

Sharks have an amazing ability to heal themselves quickly of injuries that would sideline humans for weeks or months. When I first removed the hook, it looked like the gaping hole in Captain Ron's jaw might take a long time to fill in because it was so deep, going all the way through his mouth. However, in little more than a week the wound is hardly detectable, it looks more like a bruise. Here's the before and after photos side-by-side so you can see how beautifully Captain Ron has recovered.


I've removed many hooks from my shark friends over the years, and one of the reasons I am able to do this is because the sharks trust me and know that I am their friend. It's a bond of trust resulting from the direct interaction of me massaging Captain Ron's head, very similar to a strange dog becoming a friend after scratching his head. Also, I remove any parasites that I find. Basically I'm a cleaning station for sharks.

When I remove a hook, the shark invariably swims back over to me. I It doesn't swim off the way it would if it felt injured or threatened, even though removing the hook is probably somewhat painful at the time. 

Note that I was not feeding Captain Ron or any of the other sharks when removing hooks, so feeding them is not a factor in gaining their trust. We only feed the sharks at the end of the week, and never directly from a human hand. They must find the fish on the bottom, the way they would in the wild. 

The way Captain Ron expressed his gratitude and affection was by repeatedly coming back and allowing me to touch his head. I know I can now count on Captain Ron's friendship and companionship for as long as he is alive. 

Sharks are incredibly smart animals or they wouldn't have survived for millions of years. Their instincts are finely tuned to detect threats, much like your dog's instincts are tuned to distinguish friends from foes when the doorbell rings. Once you have earned their trust, they don't forget you or mistake you for an enemy the next time they see you. I love to help sharks, and I am grateful that I have the means to do so. It's up to all of us to take action to keep Captain Ron and all sharks alive so that they can continue to protect the balance of life in our oceans. 

Please write your legislators and urge them to ban the fishing and finning of sharks in the world's oceans. We urgently need to create protected shark habitats and sustainable fisheries. Captain Ron can't write for himself. He’s relying on us to be the voice for all sharks.

Jim Abernethy
Scuba Adventures

All photos by Jim Abernethy


Join our email list for the
latest news and help make
a difference