When Elana and David Barnes posted a home video to YouTube of their 5-year-old daughter swimming in the ocean, they intended to share their vacation memories with friends and family, not the world.
But the video quickly became a viral sensation because it shows their daughter, Anaia, not just frolicking in the water but snorkeling with sharks in the waters off the Bahamas.
“Life is too short to be boring,” Elana Barnes told “Good Morning America” of why she and her husband let their daughter swim with the nurse, lemon and Caribbean reef sharks.
The video of Anaia in the water has proven to be anything but boring, provoking a fiery debate online about whether the Ridgefield, Conn., parents were irresponsible in placing their daughter in a potentially dangerous situation.
“When you are an adult, you are allowed to be as reckless as you want to be,” said Ericka Souter, editor of the The Stir on the Café Mom parenting website. “But as parents, it is our job to protect our kids from reckless and dangerous behavior.”
The Barnes say they researched the risks and decided it was worth it to nurture an adventurous spirit in their daughter. The sharks with which Anaia swam are said by animal experts to be rarely aggressive and she 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.”