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Read the passage given below.

I saw ‘Jaws’, the popular shark movie, the summer it came out, in 1975 and became paranoid about sharks. Though I kept swimming after Jaws, it was always with the vague fear that a shark’s teeth could tug on my leg at any moment. Never mind that there’d been only two shark bites since 1900 on the Connecticut coast, where I lived.

So, when I got this assignment for the National Geographic magazine, I decided to accept and do what I’d never wanted to do: swim with the sharks. I had to go to a place in the Bahamas known as Tiger Beach and dive with tiger sharks, the species responsible for more recorded attacks on humans than any shark except the great white. It was to be my first dive after getting certified—which meant it would be my first dive anywhere other than a swimming pool or a quarry—and without a diver’s cage. Most people who got wind of this plan thought I was either very brave or very stupid.

But I just wanted to puncture an illusion. The people who know sharks intimately tend to be the least afraid of them, and no one gets closer to sharks than divers. The divers who run operations at Tiger Beach speak lovingly of the tiger sharks the way people talk about their children or their pets. In their eyes, these sharks aren’t man-eaters any more than dogs are.

The business of puncturing illusions is never just black and white. My fellow divers had hundreds of dives under their belt and on the two-hour boat ride to the site in the morning of our first dive, they kept saying things like, “Seriously, I really can’t believe this is your first dive.” All this was okay with me until I reached the bottom and immediately had to fend off the first tiger shark, I had ever laid eyes on. However, when I watched the other divers feeding them fish and steering them gently, it became easy to see the sharks in a very benign light.

I think it would be unfair not to mention that though tiger sharks are apex predators. They act as a crucial balancing force in ocean ecosystems, constraining the numbers of animals like sea turtles and limit their behaviour by preventing them from overgrazing the sea grass beds. Furthermore, tiger sharks love warm water, they eat almost anything, have a huge litter and are the hardiest shark species. If the planet and its oceans continue to warm, some species will be winners and others will be losers, and tiger sharks are likely to be winners.

Based on your understanding of the passage, answer ANY EIGHT questions from the nine given below.

1. Cite a point in evidence, from the text, to suggest that the writer's post-Jaws fear was not justified.

2. State any one trait of the writer that is evident from lines 5-10 and provide a reason for your choice.

3. People thought the writer was ‘either brave or very stupid’. Why did some people think that he was ‘very stupid’?

4. Why does the writer say that people who know sharks intimately tend to be least afraid of them?

5. Rewrite the given sentence by replacing the underlined phrase with another one, from lines 10 – 20.

Some academicians think that reward, as a form of discipline, is a simple right or wrong issue.

6. What does the use of the phrase ‘benign light’ suggest in the context of the writer’s viewpoint about the tiger sharks?

7. Select a suitable phrase from lines 15-25 to complete the following sentence appropriately.

I agree the team will find this experience tough, but competing will be easier next time after they get this tournament __________________________.

8. Apex predators serve to keep prey numbers in check. How can we say that tiger sharks are apex predators?

9. Analyse why having a large litter is one of the features that empowers tiger sharks to emerge winners if global warming persists.

2 Answers

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1. The writer’s post-Jaws fear was not justified as ‘there had been only two cases of shark bites since 1900 – 1975 in Connecticut coast’ where the writer lived. It was an irrational fear.

2. The writer was Adventurous, Courageous, Bold and Experimental, Because he feared the tiger sharks was aware of the fact that they were dangerous, yet accepted, as his very first assignment, that required him to face them.

3. Some people thought the writer was very stupid as he had side-lined the notion that sharks were dangerous and risked his life by venturing into an assignment with the sharks without the required expertise thereby risking his life.

4. The writer says that the people who know sharks closely are least afraid of them as they know that they are docile and feed on the food they offer just as pets do.

5. Some academicians think that reward, as a form of discipline, is a simple black and white issue.

6. The phrase ‘benign light’ here means- gentle, benevolent or friendly.

When the writer saw the others feeding the sharks he saw the tiger sharks as docile and less dangerous than other sharks.

7. I agree the team will find this experience tough, but competing will be easier next time after they get this tournament under their belt(line 21)

8. Apex predators are those animals that act as a balancing force in the ecosystem. The tiger sharks, as apex predators, help in restricting over population of sea turtles by feeding on them. If the numbers weren’t constrained, it would result in the depletion of sea-grass which supports other marine life forms.

9. Reduces possibility of extinction or destruction due to harsh conditions, as large numbers would ensure that some definitely survive. Therefore, the tiger sharks would survive in spite of the adverse effect of global warming.

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1. Value Points: Not justified as stated in the text that there were only 2 shark attacks reported in 75 years i.e., from 1900 – 1975, so it was highly unlikely that he had anything to fear.

2. Value Points: Adventurous/ Courageous/ Bold/ Experimental, Because he feared the tiger sharks/ was aware of the fact that they were dangerous, yet accepted, as his very first assignment, that required him to face them.

3. Value Points: Because he was risking his life and could be bitten by the sharks as other people were/ side-lined the popular notion that tiger sharks are dangerous/ did not pay due attention to the fact that he was walking into obvious danger without the required expertise

4. Value Points: Because they find the sharks to be harmless/ as docile as pets—the sharks feed on the food they offer and seem as docile as pets

5. Value Points: Some academicians think that reward, as a form of discipline, is a simple black and white issue.

6. Value Points: Benign light – viewed as benevolent/ gentle/ friendly. Tiger sharks did not seem to be that harmful/dangerous/ They seemed fairly docile/less dangerous than the other sharks

7. Value Points: I agree the team will find this experience tough, but competing will be easier next time after they get this tournament under their belt. (line 21)

8. Value Points: Because tiger sharks restrict the number of sea turtles (by feeding on them), and act as a balancing force in the ecosystem. If the numbers weren’t constrained, it would result in the depletion of sea-grass which supports other marine life forms.

9. Value Points: Reduces possibility of extinction or destruction due to harsh conditions, as large numbers would ensure that some definitely survive.

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