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The Great White Shark Song (A sea lion’s tribute)

By Laura Sams, Robert Sams, 14th February 2011

It is with great joy that we present The Great White Shark Tribute Song from our new project The Shark Riddle, the second episode in the Riddle Solvers series! If you were going to create a song about the great white shark’s role in the ecosystem, about how it is needed for a healthy food chain, who better to sing the song than . . . . a sea lion? Why not have a marine mammal sing about its own role in the food chain? Get ready for a song that I believe is one of our best . . . and I hope you find yourself cheering for the great white shark!

The high definition underwater shark footage was filmed by the talented cameramen from the Save Our Seas Foundation. Much of the sea lion footage was filmed by Robert Sams along the Oregon coast. And we used some additional shots from Tom Campbell.

Robert is performing the voice of the lead sea lion, but we worked with musicians from Portland, Oregon to bring the rest of the song to life. To add some unique percussion, we were inspired by “the food chain” and recorded the sound of a link of chain falling into our hands. We also used a slinky to add some fun rhythm . . . which was one of the crowning achievements of our audio engineer, who had secretly always left a slinky near his recording studio just in case, for one glorious moment when the stars aligned, he could finally use a slinky appropriately in a song. To create the whole group of sea lions singing “great white shark” we gathered a group of friends in the recording studio – mostly men, but a few women too, so we could add a bit of harmony to the shark chorus. We also stomped on planks to give an authentic, seaworthy beat.

A lot of people ask us how we write music. Robert and I spent months thinking about this song – what style should it be? Would it be catchy enough that people could sing it after hearing the song? How do you write a good tribute to the great white shark, deviating from the usual soundtrack of suspenseful bass tones? How do we surprise viewers and give them something truly unexpected? Then while Robert was driving across Montana on his way to the International Wildlife Film Festival, he thought of a bass line and a melody. He called me on on the phone and sang it briefly, and I knew . . . that was it! We batted around lots of lyric ideas. I wrote down a few phrases that were fun, like “sharks are blubber lovers.” Rob came up with the line about “living out here where the breeze is breezy, the water is wet and the fishin’ is easy.” We even debated on the line about octopii, checking to make sure that was a correct way to pluralize the word “octopus” (turns out you can use octopuses, octopii or octopodes). We really wanted to have an octopus in the song, because Robert filmed a giant pacific octopus in Hood Canal, Washington, in a very cold, but very rewarding dive.

Later, when we were pilot testing this section from The Shark Riddle, it was fun to watch kids’ reactions. We were trying to convey the food chain without being too gruesome, and the kids who have watched it so far have really loved it. Hopefully the song will be a good springboard for mapping a food web or a food chain, from the plants to the fish to the sea lions to the great white shark. I also developed a worksheet to accompany the song in our educational Shark Packet that will be available soon.

In any case, I truly hope you enjoy this song. — Laura Sams, Sisbro Studios,

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