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Parenting Positive Kids Parenting Positive Kids

Parents Defend Letting Daughter, 5, Swim With Sharks

What do you think?


When Elana and David Barnes posted a home video to YouTube of their 5-year-old daughter swimming in the ocean, they intended to share their vacation memories with friends and family, not the world.

But the video quickly became a viral sensation because it shows their daughter, Anaia, not just frolicking in the water but snorkeling with sharks in the waters off the Bahamas.

“Life is too short to be boring,” Elana Barnes told “Good Morning America” of why she and her husband let their daughter swim with the nurse, lemon and Caribbean reef sharks.

The video of Anaia in the water has proven to be anything but boring, provoking a fiery debate online about whether the Ridgefield, Conn., parents were irresponsible in placing their daughter in a potentially dangerous situation.

“When you are an adult, you are allowed to be as reckless as you want to be,” said Ericka Souter, editor of the The Stir on the Café Mom parenting website. “But as parents, it is our job to protect our kids from reckless and dangerous behavior.”

The Barnes say they researched the risks and decided it was worth it to nurture an adventurous spirit in their daughter. The sharks with which Anaia swam are said by animal experts to be rarely aggressive and she was with an instructor the entire time.

“There’s just always risk assessments in life every day,” David Barnes told “GMA.” “I’m more concerned that they don’t put seatbelts in school buses.”


by on Jul. 6, 2012 at 8:36 AM
Replies (21-30):
by on Jul. 8, 2012 at 11:18 AM

 Not a big.  Sharks are everywhere.  They have found sharks in lakes even.  They have discovered that sharks are becoming adaptable.  They can survive in fresh waster, as well as salt water, if need be. 


My daughter has been in with sharks and rays, both in a cage and out of a cage. 

by on Jul. 8, 2012 at 11:21 AM

Quoting Beautiful31mom:

Do people not realize that if you swim in the ocean you are swimming with sharks? 

And this 11100000%! Seriously, people are ridiculous. Just recently (in May) several sharks swam up to a sandbar in Panama City beach, FL and everyone had to get out of the water. This was in an area that had never really had a shark presence like that before. (and at my favorite place to stay when we go down there) People tend to forget when they go to the beach, just whose territory they are in. So there really is no need for these parents to have to defend themselves. If they do, then anyone who has been to the beach and let their kids go in the water have some explaining to do as well. 

by on Jul. 8, 2012 at 11:22 AM
1 mom liked this

Honestly, I'm undecided......I'll make a decision if and when the situation comes up

by on Jul. 8, 2012 at 11:22 AM
2 moms liked this

Im a little jealous, honestly....  But good for her parents!! I bet she will NEVER forget that experience! 

by on Jul. 8, 2012 at 11:29 AM

people do it everyday. if it were an adult nobody would care.

by on Jul. 8, 2012 at 11:29 AM
When you see a lot of feeder fish at the shore in the waves. It's a pretty good indicator sharks may be around.

Quoting tmmom2:

  What the signs that a shark is near the shore?  Just curious I am going to the beach next month and am a little freaked about sharks.

Quoting BeAmour:

 I'd so let my DS do it!!

They are nurse sharks and can be very friendly...they remind me of manatee's honestly (by their personality). There were people there if by the off chance things got ugly and it was 100% controlled.

Quite frankly, I'm more terrified of going to the beach with my DS in the waters because who knows where the sharks are...and I live in Florida!

Althought, I do know the signs a shark is near shore but it's because I'm pure Floridan. :)

Posted on CafeMom Mobile
by on Jul. 8, 2012 at 11:30 AM

Totally agree. Plus I have a fascination with sharks, so it sounds kind of cool to me.

Quoting IAMmomtotrips:

I think it's being blown out of portion. The sharks she was snorkeling with we're nurse sharks and are less agressive than dolphins!

She was in a more controlled environment than when the average person swims at the beach!

I took all three of my five year olds snorkeling this summer and when we dropped anchor to begin our swim a 7 ft bull shark swam right under the boat! And that did not stop us from snorkeling and he didn't go out of our area...he just stayed away from us. We also found 5 sting rays. It was a great trip!

by on Jul. 8, 2012 at 11:32 AM
4 moms liked this

those damn sticky thug sharks... :P

Quoting Delirium003:

I think it's cool she had a chance to do that. And she was with someone that could get her the heck out of there if thugs got sticky.

ETA: lol, my phone autocorrected "things" to "thugs".

by Bronze Member on Jul. 8, 2012 at 11:33 AM

Quoting Beautiful31mom:

Do people not realize that if you swim in the ocean you are swimming with sharks? 

Posted on CafeMom Mobile
by on Jul. 8, 2012 at 11:47 AM

 I think it's fine they're just nurse sharks. It's not the most radical thing parents have ever done with there kids.

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