David and Elena Barnes are Connecticut parents who are coming under fire from both the media and Internet commenters for letting their 5-year-old daughter Anaia swim with sharks while the family was on vacation in the Bahamas, as noted at the Stir. The incident was captured on camera and posted online June 20, although the parents have just started to come under fire as word about the swim has spread.
The Barnes claim they posted the video online only to share it with friends, family, and people they met during their vacation. It begins with footage of a man throwing chum to circling sharks in front of an audience that seems to be mostly made up of tourists. At that point, Elena Barnes is holding the camera and seems to be concerned about her husband, who is a good distance away from the feeding frenzy at the time.
David, are you at a safe distance? Elena Barnes asked. Later, Anaia is shown swimming in the water while lemon, nurse, and reef sharks swim just beneath the surface. Life is too short to be boring, Elena Barnes told Good Morning America after the story starting making waves around the Internet.
The New York Daily News reported that John Lenzycki, an assistant curator at the Marine Aquarium at Norwalk, told News 8 in New Haven that nurse sharks are more mellow, while lemon and reef sharks can exhibit higher predatory behavior.
The Daily News said Lenzycki was not sure it was a good idea to allow the little girl to swim with the sharks. He told the News, I'd probably be a little more cautious myself.
Since the video was originally posted on YouTube, Elena Barnes has disabled the comments, perhaps because of the amount of criticism she and her husband received from viewers.
The media has naturally spun this out of control, Elena Barnes wrote. We are DONE with the publicity, we don't want fame or money and we never meant for this to 'go viral.' She was safe the whole time, experts agree. We would never toss her in with great whites, tiger, or bull sharks ...
As of Friday, the video has only 321,933 views, which is relatively low for one that has made so much commotion. It's worth noting, though, that the video has been reposted many times -- it can be watched below -- and the feedback the Barnes family was hoping to avoid is available on almost every source that has covered this story.