shark boy

Why Is Austin Nichols Swimming With Sharks?

The "One Tree Hill," "John from Cincinnati," and "The Day After Tomorrow" actor teams up with the University of Miami and Oceana for some very important marine research.

Jun 20, 2014 | 03:09 PM

Most people dream of swimming with dolphins, but would you be brave enough to swim with sharks? Austin Nichols is.

The "One Tree Hill" and "John from Cincinnati" actor spent two days with the R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program at the University of Miami off the coast of Florida in an effort to learn more about the impressive and sometimes feared creatures.

Oceana, the world's leading ocean conservation organization, joined forces with the University of Miami's program, in a series of summer projects with Austin to raise money and awareness for the cause.

“I tell people all the time how I like to dive, and a lot of people are scared of the ocean. I want everyone to know that you don’t need to be,” Nichols said. “I see sharks all the time and swim with them. They’re really smart and really intelligent fish, and I feel like we could all open our hearts to them a little bit more. We’ve been inundated by the movies to think they’re these bloodthirsty human eaters, but they’re not.”

Austin tagged seven sharks during his days at sea, including a nurse shark, a blacktip shark, four black nose sharks, and an almost seven-foot lemon shark. The satellite tags will help researchers locate the sharks locations for feeding, mating, and breeding in the Atlantic, which will help environmental scientists protect the sharks' territory.

The team also collected samples of blood from each shark, and recorded measurements of their fins.

And, just as you'd expect, catching sharks is no easy task. Austin discussed the difficult process, saying, “The nurse shark is supposed to be the calmest shark in the water, but when you catch one and try to pull it on the boat, it’s the most rambunctious shark out there. The scientists had to jump on it and hold it still, and it was a fascinating thing to watch this calm shark be really strong.”

Would you be brave enough to get in the water with sharks? We're not so sure we would, so we're seriously impressed by Austin's hard work and dedication to such an important environmental cause.

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