Image via Shark Attack News

Back in February, Honolulu-based conservationist Ocean Ramsey made headlines around the world when she video recorded herself hitching a lift with a Great White Shark by grabbing its fin. Since then, this ‘shark riding’ trend has taken off, but unsurprisingly, oceanographic experts warn that this fad can only end in tragedy.

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Ms. Ramsey said after approaching the shark she watched it “acknowledge and observe me, while I peacefully and calmly allowed it to swim towards me, and then experiencing it accepting my touch, allowing me to dorsal and tail ride.”

At the time, Ramsey said she took the ride to show that the feared predators had a soft side. Speaking at the time, she said, “You have to get the animal to trust you, they’re very reserved, they’re very cautious.”

Ramsey’s bold move has inspired a flurry of copycats, and now on YouTube you can find dozens of videos of people doing similar; having ‘hands on encounters’ with sharks. Though the ‘shark riding’ practice may have started with good intentions, people who don’t have any experience dealing with such creatures are now putting themselves in great peril.

Shark Attack News reports that it is mainly alcohol that is fueling this new thrill-seeking sport, and that it can only end badly. And this is not just for humans (if someone gets killed), but also the sharks who will once again be vilified and no doubt suffer retaliatory attacks.

One recent video sees a man grab a lemon shark in a bear hug with his head dangerously close to its mouth. In the video’s description, rider Grant Murdock wrote that the sharks “were gentle and accepting of our advances.”

“They didn’t seem to mind at all that we were riding for free. It was as close to an out of body experience that I have ever felt.”

Of course, not everyone is going to get away without an injury, so if you want to see sharks up close, may we recommend you do it from the side of a boat?

Via Slate