Many dogs will bark at intruders to defend their homes. But when the intruder is a shark? A group of tourists found out last moth when a massive hammerhead swam a little too close to a courageous dog’s shoreside home in the Bahamas. As the shark neared the dock, the dog jumped into the water, barking, to scare it away. Passengers on a nearby boat tour witnessed the canine as it put its life on the line to keep the potential predator away.
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The boat’s 32 passengers’ cried out in alarm when the dog made the leap—right on top of the 12-foot shark. Tour boat captain Rebecca Lightbourn of Exuma Water Sports was able to capture the heart-stopping moment on video.
Tourists watched the tense showdown as the dog and shark had a silent duel in the water, crying things like, “Stop going after it!” and “Oh my God!” Lightbourn, speaking to speaking to NBC News, noted that the dog “tried to take a chunk out of” the shark’s fin, but it was to no avail — the shark eventually swam off.
After the shark swam away, the tourists were pleased to see that there had been no injuries. Lightbourn told Fox 13 News that the dog could usually be seen running along the shore in a bid to greet passengers at that point in the tour, but had never attempted such a stunt.
“I guess this time the dog decided he wanted to protect his house or play with a really big fish in the water, so he went after it,” Lightbourn told the outlet.
It’s quite rare for dogs to stand their ground against sharks, but there have been several documented cases where canine companions went toe to toe (or paw to fin?) against sharks that had gotten too close to their owners.
In November 2020, an Australian kelpie named Tilly jumped into the water when a shark got too close to its owner. Acccording to the Daily Mail, it “leaped” toward the shark, eventually swimming into deeper waters until it was sure the predator had retreated. Another Fox News report tells of an Australian dog swimming after and then “kissing” a whale shark.
Luckily, most sharks tend to avoid people — and dogs — in the first place. But if you happen to have a furry friend whose bark is worse than her bite, it’s probably a good idea to try and keep her from swimming out to square up against a shark if you can help it.