For many people, sharks are sources of fear and terror. Jaws, a movie about a human-killing shark, created this shark phobia for some, while others might have developed their aversion from stories of shark attacks or from personal encounters with sharks. Others are just scared of the predatory nature of sharks. However, a shark tattoo is symbolic of many positive attributes that one would want to embrace. Sharks can represent power, fearlessness, authority, strength, and energy. Shark tattoos can also be a protective charm, keeping the wearer safe. Sharks appear calculating, intelligent, confident, assertive, knowledgeable, and bold. They also move with an unexpected litheness and grace that seems to contradict their strength and power. Sharks are the ideal predator, but also an amazingly resilient survivor.
In fact, some fishermen have reported sharks attacking sailors several hours after they were caught. It is not uncommon for a fisherman to lose a limb when he attempts to gut an apparently dead shark. Laying on deck for hours, bleeding and wounded, some sharks are still able to put up an impressive fight before succumbing to death. People who are drawn to shark tattoos might be drawn to their apex-predatory nature, their skill for conquering others, or they might find their unwillingness to be dominated appealing.
Sharks can live solitary lives, or hunt in groups. They use their innate skills and intelligence to disable and bring down even the fastest creatures. Sharks are also resilient in terms of evolution. In fact, sharks haven't really evolved in several hundreds of million years; this means they are designed very efficiently, with little to no need for improvement.
In island cultures, the shark is often viewed as the lion of jungle and safari cultures. According to the Maori of New Zealand, a Polynesian tribe of indigenous peoples, the shark is very sacred and often called “the king of the waters.” This parallels the belief that the lion is the king of the jungle. Both creatures seem noble and majestic, able to rule all the other creatures who are less impressive, weaker, and humble.
Shark tattoos, or shark teeth tattoos (called mako), in Maori culture represent victory and superiority. Victors and champions would sport such a design. The rulers of tribes and those who hold the power would have mako tattoos.
Interestingly, sailors and pirates often selected sharks as symbols of protection and safety while at sea. Unlike some modern idea that sharks will kill those who fall overboard, seamen historically felt that the shark was their protector and a shark tattoo was helpful in a safe return to port and to avoid drowning or falling overboard. Along with this idea, some people feel that a shark tattoo helps people to navigate life, guiding them through trials and tribulations, helping them find home or peace. Old school shark tattoos are often featured with swallows, anchors and other fish tattoo designs.
Sharks are incredibly adept at finding prey and sensing movement in the water. They rely on these innate senses for survival. Perhaps some people shark tattoos are hoping to rely on their own skills to get them through life. Furthermore, sharks represent action, seizing opportunities and making the most of situation. A shark will not hesitate to attack if given the chance and won't take unnecessary risks if the situation takes a turn for the worst. Shark tattoos can convey this meaning, too.
Shark tattoo designs vary greatly. Some designs are fanciful or cartoon-like, while others are realistic. Shark tattoos might be fearsome, or they might even be cute. Much of the tattoo design depends on what the individual is looking for in terms of meaning and symbolism. Someone who wants a shark tattoo to represent strength and power is unlikely to choose a cute, little, cartoon shark. Likewise, someone who wants a tattoo to represent the history and culture of the Maori or other Polynesian tribes, will most likely choose a traditional tribal tattoo design, rather than a realistic and diagrammatic representation. Sharks can be scary, prehistoric predators, or they can be so much more than that.