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Shark Week Interview: Chris Vargas

〰️ Chris Vargas 〰️

@floridian_diver PADI instructor, Shark Diver & Crew member @deepobsession_charters , Ocean Advocate and Conservationist 

1. What led to your passion for sharks?

My passion for sharks actually started by curiosity. When I started diving in Puerto Rico at the age of 14 I was always keeping an eye out for sharks because I was afraid of them. It was so rare to see one, it didn't make much sense to me that these animals that everyone is so afraid of were so hard to find. I asked my instructor why it was so hard to see sharks, he explained to me that many sharks were actually endangered species. That created a spark in me and I wanted to know what I could do to protect sharks.

2. What was your most memorable shark encounter?

It was in Mona Island, a small island west of Puerto Rico. There was a huge hammerhead cruising along the reef, very calm and just majestic. It was such an amazing feeling for me that I was able to be next to this amazing animal at the same place and the same time in a natural interaction. I will never forget that moment.

3. What is one common misconception about sharks that you personally have seen otherwise?

The normal "Jaws" misconception, most people to this day still believe that sharks are out there to get us. Sad but true story, I was told once by a lady from NY that protecting sharks was a huge mistake and that I was crazy. "If we don't catch and kill these animals, they will take over the world" she told me that with a straight face. To this day I still don't know what to say to that.

4. Why do you think it is important to support shark research and conservation?

We have to support the people/scientist that are working day to day to gather valuable information about these animals. They are the only hope for sharks. Us as shark divers/operators can help these organizations by educating our costumers about the importance of shark research. Without any of these scientific data we will never be able to help these animals, unfortunately authorities only listen to data and science. If we don't help the people that are out there working on collecting all the data, the future of our sharks will continue to be in jeopardy.

Taylor Cunningham