Swimming with Sharks

17-year-old Hendersonville High School senior Michael Ramer learned how to fed sharks.

17-year-old Hendersonville High School senior Michael Ramer learned how to feed sharks.

When 17-year-old Hendersonville High School senior Michael Ramer was deciding what to do for his senior project, he wanted to do something, well…a little scary.

So while the rest of the class was researching, building, and otherwise preparing their individual expressions of creativity and knowledge, Michael was jumping overboard into the shark-infested waters off The Bahamas. He was learning how to feed sharks…without becoming shark food himself.

An experienced diver who first put on the wet suit and tanks in the fifth grade, young Ramer had been in the water with sharks before. But he’d never been in a situation where he was supposed to actually encourage them to eat. “When you dive with sharks,” he says, “you have to kneel and have your hands behind you so they don’t think you’re food.”

This time, however, he was taking along a PVC tube filled with fish and would be handing them out as snacks to alarmingly large sharks.

“It’s pretty surreal,” he says. “You’re on the boat wearing chain mail…and then you’re in the water. When that nine-foot shark bites down on your arm, that’s when the fear comes in. You have to push you arm further into the shark’s mouth to release the teeth. Once you get your arm out and it’s still attached, you realize that the chain mail really does work.”

The young diver came away with an impressive memento of his experience. The shark that bit down on his arm left one of his teeth in Michael’s chain mail sleeve. He plans to make it into a necklace as a way to remember the adventure.

“It was a really big thing for me,” he says of his adventure. “My school has never had a senior project like this. I would love to do it again.”

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