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Sharks in the Spotlight

By Lauren de Vos, 22nd February 2013

Finding sharks on our cameras has become an event of a most philosophical nature for me.

For every curious glance they give our cameras, for every thrill of excitement their regal presence brings, there is some flicker on sadness reflected in me that I somehow cannot banish …

To understand what I mean, type “great white shark” into Google, and your heart will slowly sink as the search engine prompts you with an eager “attacks?”

No, Google. That was not what I was looking for.

Denied the friendly smile that evolution generously bestowed on dolphins, or the furry pelt of those bright-eyed bubble-blowers, the seals, it seems that sharks still strike a chord of an altogether different nature in us. We may be several decades out of the 1970s, but the legacy of JAWS is still very much a part of our popular consciousness.

The footage from our BRUVs, however, goes a long way to restoring my more typically optimistic outlook. We’ve seen lots of those little “Songololos of the Sea”, the shysharks, and our sightings range from the determined catsharks to prehistoric-looking sevengills, to smooth-hounds and soupfins gliding on the periphery …

The ability to monitor the distribution and abundance of slow-growing, slow-to-reproduce species of shark with remote cameras hopefully offers us a low impact option for long-term conservation. That’s why we were so excited when we picked up this footage of that most enigmatic sea creature, the great white shark, in Struisbaai.

Capturing these sharks on camera is not about providing hair-raising entertainment, but about adding to the growing body of knowledge that allows us, through improved understanding and perspective, to better protect this magnificent species and indeed, live alongside it in adequate respective for its own existence right.

However, there is also something to be said for capturing footage of these sharks – recording their intelligence and curiosity, their range of behaviours – that we can share with as wide an audience as possible and, in doing so, move towards dispelling those antiquated myths that plague the proper conservation of an apex predator.

Plug in an awesome pair of headphones, and prepare to be wowed:

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