The intrepid Jeff Joel held huge chunks of bait in his hands in an attempt to get as close as possible to the bull sharks (Image: mediadrumimages/Jeff Joel)
An intrepid diver stared to death as he managed to feed a terrifying 32-stone bull shark some bait using his bare hands.
Florida diver Jeff Joel was bobbing in the Atlantic Ocean, as he has done hundreds of times before, when the massive beast swam toward him.
The 66-year-old man from Jupiter, Florida, and seven other divers held huge pieces of bait in their hands, in an attempt to get as close as possible to the bull sharks.
His plan worked, and within seconds, the crew had half a dozen hungry bull sharks circling them.
Stunning photographs show the brave hand of the diver feeding the shark as if it were a pup.
The beasts were seen devouring the bait just inches from the divers’ hands.
But the animal photographer refused to move away from them.
In fact, he posed with them, patted their sides, and took dozens of photos that he shared with the Mirror.
He said of the photos: “My favorite thing about the images is the composition. I love when people see these images, they are amazed.”
Bull sharks can be up to 6 feet long (Image: mediadrumimages/Jeff Joel).
He said he didn’t use any additional equipment for the dive, just brought a camera and breathing gear.
The jury is still out on whether it’s safe to feed sharks the way Jeff and his team did.
One expert told National Geographic that doing so can alter shark behavior and cause them to associate easy meals with humans.
The director of the Florida Program for Shark Research, George Burgess, told the magazine: “Feeding sharks has the effect that it can get rid of that natural concern between the shark and the human being.”
But others argued that the practice of getting people used to being around sharks reduces the stigma attached to them and, in fact, increases awareness of the challenges they face.
“Shark cage divers doing ecotourism around the world have done a good thing,” said Brian Skerry, shark diving expert and photographer.
“Now there are shark ambassadors all over the world. They’ve done some good things by trying to change the view that most people have that sharks are dangerous.”