WATCH: Film Director Eli Roth and a PEOPLE Staffer Come Face-to-Face with a 17-foot Tiger Shark

Tiger sharks are second only to great whites in attacking humans

Photo: Jason Elias

As a brand new diver, jumping into the ocean in search of a tiger shark can be a very daunting task.

For one, the tiger shark comes second only to Great Whites in attacking humans. But still, there I was in the French Polynesian islands with the Discovery Channel and Eli Roth about to go in search of one.

It was just a month earlier in New York City, when my editor asked if I wanted to go diving with sharks in Tahiti for Shark Week. Without hesitation I jumped at the chance, but now looking directly at a 17-foot tiger shark headed my way, I asked myself why I agreed to such a crazy assignment.

Luckily I had film director, actor and Shark After Dark host Roth to keep me calm.

“They’re all dangerous if they think you’re food,” he told me before we descended to the bottom of the ocean. “But they are also really safe if they know your not.”

Roth returns as host of Shark Week’s hit late-night talk show Shark After Dark for a second year in a row starting June 26 at 11 p.m. ET on Discovery.

Every second we were underwater with the tiger shark was heart pounding, but I was addicted to the adrenaline. Her giant blunt nose (yes, she was a female!) crept up so close behind me that her teeth nearly grazed my fin. But, for every frightening pass she made I wanted her to come even closer on the next.

For more on People Staffer Emily Strohm’s shark diary, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

At some point during the dive I forgot about being scared and instead marveled at the details of her stripes and how gracefully she moved in the water. It also helped that half the time she was inches away from me I had no idea because she snuck up from behind.

At the end of the dive, Roth and I agreed on one thing. She was simply beautiful.

Shark Week returns to Discovery Channel with all-new compelling shark stories Sunday, June 26 to Sunday, July 3.

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