These incredible images are NOT a photoshopped or graphic artist drawings – they’re real photos taken underwater with live wild sharks.
Inspired to realise awareness to help protect sharks, photographer Von Wong pulled together a crew of divers in Fiji as well as in impressive array of underwater photography equipment and a champion freediver to be the model in a custom-made gown.
In his video https://youtu.be/shXWj8a4DmA (linked in the article http://www.vonwong.com/blog/sharkshepherd) Von Wong talks about how sharks are a vital part in the ocean’s ecosystem, effectively the Shepherds of the oceans. But they need our protection – without sharks, the ocean ecosystem breaks down, and in turn, the ecosystems of the planet break down.
Thus the project www.sharkshepherd.com
Von Wong says Sharks are almost always depicted as menacing and terrifying, yet it is humans that are responsible for killing them in the millions just to make soup. I wanted to create a series of images that would help break those stereotypes and show that it is possible for us to co-exist together in perfect harmony
For each and every shot we would weigh down Amber Bourke, our champion freediver, onto the perfectly lit rock formation where light was falling. The ethereal white dress, designed specifically for this shoot by Ali Charisma, would have to be carefully placed so that it would flow beautifully into the image. When all was finally in position, we would hand over the three-piece plastic shepherds crook to amber and begin the wait.
Over the course of three days, we waited over six hours.
Though popular media would tell you that sharks come swarming at the slightest scent of blood, death and suffering, our experience with them was the complete opposite.
Similar to squirrels at a park, the white tipped reef sharks would hover around us curiously only to scamper off if anyone got too close.
– Sharks are a keystone species and are responsible for the health of ocean ecosystems. They eliminate the weak, the diseased and the dead, maintaining the ecological balance and the future health of the ocean.
– Every year, tens of millions of sharks are killed by humans. On average, sharks kill less than 10 people a year.
– Currently, shark ecotourism brings almost 1 Billion US worldwide, and is expected to grow 2 fold in the next 20 years.
– There are over 450 species of sharks, most cause no harm to humans.