Hardcore Aquarium Diver?   Leave a comment

I try to expand the horizons of elasmodiver.com whenever I can. Sometimes that means going on an exotic trip to some previously uncharted island paradise and photographing schools of marauding but little known sharks but that’s not always possible. Now that the Summer of the Sharks Pilot is out of the way (the trailer is being reviewed by some heavy hitters this week) its time to work on the aspects of elasmodiver that are perhaps a little less glamorous such as indexing the species that I was able to photograph in the Houston Aquarium.

Its still pretty cool that I was invited to dive in their well stocked shark tank but there are members of the diving community who would consider this activity to be a waste of time if not a complete embarrassment. Hell, I’m supposed to be the Staff Photographer for Shark Diver Magazine not some geek who jumps in a goldfish bowl. Well I have news for anyone who considers Aquarium Diving to be suspect… The almost two hour long dive that I did in Houston was one of the most productive for shark photography that I have ever achieved.

Not only was I able to get way closer to the gnarly looking Sandtiger Sharks than ever before, but I was able to get images of two species of Sawfishes (Green Sawfish and Freshwater Sawfish) that I would probably never have seen in the wild. Apart from the expense of another long and grueling trip down under, the chances of locating a river or estuarine environment where the water visibility would be good enough to find and photograph the animals is almost zero. Combine this with the fact that these species are critically endangered (according to the 2006 IUCN Red List of Endangered Species) and it becomes obvious that the images I took are extremely rare and that I was very lucky to have the opportunity.
That doesnt mean that I dont want to jump into the Fitzroy River one day and wrestle crocodiles in an effort to shoot sawfish in the wild (I still have my undeniably stupid streak) but I am a convert to the benefits of slipping into a nice clean shark tank to get easily composed images of highly exotic species in crystal clear water.

There was a time when I had my reservations about the very existence of Aquariums and I still have some issues with keeping large marine mammals in captivity, but in today’s seas where many species of sharks and rays are being decimated by over fishing aquariums become a useful tool in educating the masses to what we are quickly losing in the wild and the captive breeding programs that these facilities provide are sadly the only way that some species are likely to come back from the brink of extinction.

For the Sharks,

Andy Murch

Andy is the Staff Photographer at Shark Diver Magazine and the Host of the Elasmodiver Shark Picture Database and Field Guide.

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Posted July 12, 2006 by Andy Murch in Environment, Nature, Photography, Sharks, Uncategorized

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