Sharks may not be that into you.

Despite claims from Ripley's Aquarium of Canada that its 'touch tanks' let humans get up close and personal with these "tame and lovable creatures of the deep," nearly 30,000 people beg to differ.

An online petition is calling for the aquarium to stop the practice, suggesting sharks, as well as stingrays and other animals in the exhibit, don't feel the warm and fuzzies.

Just the stress.

"Sharks, stingrays and other fish are included in the exhibit, and spend their days being poked and prodded by visitors — it's no way for animals to live," reads the petition, created by Toronto resident Ruslan Benko.

Well, not exactly, counters Andy Dehart, the aquarium's director of husbandry.

As Ripley's "top animal guy," Dehart knows firsthand how inspirational it can be to, literally, get a feel for an animal -- even if it is little more than a couple of fingers on the back of a whitespotted bamboo shark.

"My career started with having a touch encounter with an animal in an exhibit in a small aquarium. From there it led me to want to explore the oceans a little bit more."

And from there?

A passion, he says, for the ocean. And a lifetime of advocating for the preservation of marine life.

And how does touching marine life fit into that laudable aim?

"The goal for this to kick away that perception of shark's as man-eating killers," Dehart explained.

"What we've found at aquariums throughout North America and the world is that these touch encounters do a great job of putting a backseat to the perception of these animals being dangerous."

Indeed, at less than three-feet long, most of the world's sharks fall well short of the Jaws-like proportions so very alive in the public imagination.

They're also "sedentary, bottom-dwelling creatures that have no interest in harming humans whatsoever."

But do they have an interest in being... petted?

"In all of our touch encounter areas," Dehart notes. "The animals have an opportunity to move away. In both our shark touch exhibit, as well as our stingray bay exhibit, the animals freely can move into the touch areas and into deeper portions of the tank that our guests physically cannot reach."

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  • In this handout picture released by Awashima Marine Park, a 1.6 meter long Frill shark swims in a tank after being found by a fisherman at a bay in Numazu, on January 21, 2007 in Numazu, Japan. The frill shark, also known as a Frilled shark usually lives in waters of a depth of 600 meters and so it is very rare that this shark is found alive at sea-level. Its body shape and the number of gill are similar to fossils of sharks which lived 350,000,000 years ago. (Photo by Awashima Marine Park/Getty Images)

  • A shark swims in a tank at the New York Aquarium on August 7, 2001 in Coney Island, New York City. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

  • A June 11, 2009 file photo provided by Elasmodiver shows scientist Eric Hoffmayer of the University of Southern Mississippi's Gulf Coast Research Lab in Ocean Springs, Miss., taking fin measurements of a whale shark in the Gulf of Mexico, about 55 miles off the Louisiana coast. Hoffmayer says whale sharks, the world's biggest fish, are particularly vulnerable if they get into the oil slick. That's because, rather than moving up to the surface and down again, they eat by swimming along the surface, sucking in plankton, fish eggs and small fish. (AP Photo/Elasmodiver, Andy Murch, File)

  • Home And Away actor Jon Sivewright launches the new Adventure experience Grey Nurse Shark Feed Dive at Manly's Ocean World on December 18, 2006 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Patrick Riviere/Getty Images)

  • This Saturday, June 26, 2010 photo released by Bruce Sweet shows a juvenile great white shark swimming in the Atlantic Ocean about 20 miles off the coast of Gloucester, Mass., in the rich fishing ground known as Stellwagen Bank. The shark was pulled up by Gloucester-based Sweet Dream III, tagged, and returned to the sea. (AP Photo/www.SportFishingMA.com, Bruce Sweet)

  • A shark swims in a tank at the New York Aquarium August 7, 2001 in Coney Island, New York City. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

  • A shark swim inside a fish tank as a diver, left, cleans the glass at the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, South Africa, Wednesday, Aug 31, 2011. The Two Oceans Aquarium hosts group activities for school children and students which include the identification and observation of fish and other species. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

  • In this handout picture released by Awashima Marine Park, a 1.6 meter long Frill shark swims in a tank after being found by a fisherman at a bay in Numazu, on January 21, 2007 in Numazu, Japan. The frill shark, also known as a Frilled shark usually lives in waters of a depth of 600 meters and so it is very rare that this shark is found alive at sea-level. Its body shape and the number of gill are similar to fossils of sharks which lived 350,000,000 years ago. (Photo by Awashima Marine Park/Getty Images)

  • In this picture taken on September 3, 2011, an environmental activist releases a baby black-tip shark into the sea as part of an operation organised by the sharks protection group Dive Tribe off the coast of the southern Thai sea resort of Pattaya. On average an estimated 22,000 tonnes of sharks are caught annually off Thailand for their fins -- a delicacy in Chinese cuisine once enjoyed only by the rich, but now increasingly popular with the wealthier middle class. (CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Walter Szulc Jr., in kayak at left, looks back at the dorsal fin of an approaching shark at Nauset Beach in Orleans, Mass. in Cape Cod on Saturday, July 7, 2012. An unidentified man in the foreground looks towards them. No injuries were reported. The previous week, a 12- to 15-foot great white shark was seen off Chatham in the first confirmed shark sighting of the season according to a state researcher. Two more sightings were reported Tuesday, July 2, 2012. The same waters are filled with seals, which draw the sharks because they are a favorite food of the animal. (AP Photo/Shelly Negrotti)

  • This undated photo released by The Galapagos National Park of Ecuador shows a diver alongside a whale shark in the Galapagos Island, Ecuador. (AP Photo/The Galapagos National Park of Ecuador)

  • Blacktip reef shark

    A green sea turtle (R) (Chelonia mydas) swims next to a blacktip reef shark (L) (Carcharhinus melanopterus) in the aquarium of the Haus des Meeres ('House of the Sea'), in Vienna on June 27, 2012. (ALEXANDER KLEIN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • A blacktip reef shark

    A blacktip reef shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus) swims in the aquarium of the Haus des Meeres ('House of the Sea') in Vienna on June 27, 2012. (ALEXANDER KLEIN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Bonnethead shark

    A Bonnethead shark swims at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California, on April 26, 2012.The Aquarium features a collection of over 11,000 animals representing over 500 different species. It focuses on the Pacific Ocean in three major permanent galleries, sunny Southern California and Baja, the frigid waters of the Northern Pacific and the colorful reefs of the Tropical Pacific.The non-profit Aquarium sees 1.5 million visitors a year and has a total staff of over 900 people including more than 300 employees and about 650 volunteers. (JOE KLAMAR/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Blacktip reef shark

    A blacktip reef shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus swims in the aquarium of the Haus des Meeres in Vienna on June 27, 2012. (ALEXANDER KLEIN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Baby Nurse Shark Birth Captured on Camera

    The newborn is being kept away from the rest of the sharks at Yantai Haichang Whale and Shark Aquarium.

  • Rare Shark Frenzy Caught On Camera

    A school of feasting sharks was captured on camera just a few hundred meters off shore in Perth, Australia.

  • A blacktip reef shark (Carcharhinus mela

    A blacktip reef shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus) swims in the aquarium of the Haus des Meeres ('House of the Sea') in Vienna on June 27, 2012. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER KLEIN (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER KLEIN/AFP/GettyImages)