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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Fear of sharks is just not rational...

My favorite thing to photograph is a shark. It is. I love them!! They are beautiful creatures, and it amazes me that they have remained unchanged pretty much since the time of the dinosaurs. I also love the excitement of being in the water, face to face, with a large animal that sits atop (or near the top) of the food chain.

But my heart has a soft spot for sharks. They are much maligned creatures. I don't believe taht any one film has had more of an impact on an animal than "Jaws". This one movie firmly planted the fear of sharks in the minds of an ignorant public. I say ignorant not to be insulting, but to emphasize the fact that most people are just uniformed. The statistics just aren't there to back up the amount of fear that the public has of sharks, in my opinion. I mean more people are killed by animals such as crocodiles and elephants than are killed by sharks, but sharks just get more press.

Here's an article from New Zealand about how the fear of sharks is largely overblown. It notes that the sharks are always there in the water with people, but they just aren't choosing to make a meal of us.

So back to the photography aspect. Getting up close and personal wit hone of these critters is a lot harder than you might think. Overfishing has reduced their numbers, and actually seeing a shark in the wild is becoming more and more rare. So in order to photography them, you've got to go looking for them, usually in some place remote.

In terms of equipment, you're gonna need a nice wide angle lens (15 mm give or take a few mm's). This will require getting really close to the shark, and this proves to be more difficult than you might think. Sharks are curious, but are scared easily, so if you're diving open circuit scuba, chances are your bubbles will keep many sharks at a distance.

But when they do come close, and you look in their eye, you really can appreciate the beauty of these animals. I only hope that our photographs will be to increase awareness and help sharks, rather than serve as a historical document a creature that has become extinct...


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