A YouTube video of a five-year-old girl swimming with sharks in the Bahamas has gone viral and caused uproar among internet users who have labelled her parents irresponsible.
The video, which has since been taken down from the internet, shows Elana and David Barnes's daughter, Anaia, snorkelling and wading in shallow waters while surrounded by reef sharks.
They told ABC's Good Morning America programme that they had researched the risks and decided it was worth it to nurture an adventurous spirit in their daughter.
"Life is too short to be boring," Barnes said.
The video was only intended for family and friends who had shared the family holiday but it has since appeared on several websites and attracted the ire of users, including blog Café Mom.
Blog editor Erica Souter criticised the Barnes family on GMA, saying that Anaia's parents should not have put their child at risk.
"When you are an adult, you are allowed to be as reckless as you want to be," she said.
"But as parents, it is our job to protect our kids from reckless and dangerous behaviour."
The parents defended the decision since the sharks were considered by animal experts to be rarely aggressive and Anaia 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."
Elana Barnes said when she was watching on she did have second thoughts and called out to her husband to make sure they were a safe distance away.
"At no point did I feel like this was dangerous. Like going on a rollercoaster you're probably not going to fall off but it's still scary," she said.
Anaia told an ABC reporter that "it was really fun".
- Sydney Morning Herald