x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

A friendlier fish

For once, a shark does something to win a little good press for his kind.

Sharks haven't always received the best of press, even when their attacks are patently over hyped. Despite a fearsome reputation as man-eaters, sharks are on average responsible for only 70 or so run-ins with people around the world each year, of which just a handful are fatal.

Popular culture has hardly helped sharks' image as ocean-marauding murderers. Indeed, sharks are probably still suffering from the damage done by Steven Spielberg's 1976 blockbuster Jaws and subsequent Hollywood efforts. But this week brought news that sharks finally seem to be getting their PR act together.

On Saturday, a 41-year-old father-of-six and policeman from Kiribati revealed how a shark helped save his life and ended his harrowing 15-week ordeal at sea. Toakai Teitoi, who had to endure the loss of his companion and brother-in-law to dehydration a week into the journey, was finally rescued when the sound of a six-foot shark circling the boat and bumping the hull alerted him to the presence of a passing fishing boat. Mr Teitoi believes the shark nudged him towards survival.

"He was guiding me to a fishing boat. I looked up and there was the stern of a ship and I could see crew with binoculars looking at me."

We are not sure what the shark's exact intentions were, but after years of bad publicity, for once we're willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.