The Majesty of Sharks

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The Observer last Sunday had a wonderful piece by the wildlife photographer on his career searching for sharks.

[M]y western culture portrays the shark as a malevolent, man-eating monster. The fear of sharks has led to violent retribution against these animals, which have been pursued with everything from explosives to rifles to gill nets and hooks. As a photographer and marine biologist, I have spent many hundreds of hours in the company of the most feared fish in the sea and they are a low rung on my ladder of danger. Compared with many large terrestrial predators, I believe sharks to be remarkably tolerant and forgiving. Every winter, when I photograph large bronze whaler sharks ripping into bait-balls of fish during the sardine run off South Africa’s east coast, I’m often just inches away from the sharks as they charge into the mass of silvery fish. Now imagine running with a wide-angle lens right next to a lion as it charges and pulls down a zebra. Sharks are not as dangerous as people make them out to be, but some are truly formidable predators. Their wildness is real and I treat each shark encounter with humility and a generous dose of respect.

There were also a collection of Peschank’s photos, many of which are magnificent.

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