Activists use different methods to get their message across, but nobody drives a point home quite like Hannah Fraser.
The underwater model/activist recently emerged from shark-infested waters off the Bahamas, where she danced on the sea floor with tiger sharks in an effort to prove the predators are not the blood-thirsty killers they’re being made out to be.
The primary target of this strikingly powerful video message, and that of cinematographer Shawn Heinrichs and renowned dive-master Jim Abernethy, is the controversial shark cull off Western Australia.
<iframe src=”//player.vimeo.com/video/97393577″ width=”500″ height=”281″ frameborder=”0″ webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe> <p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/97393577″>Tigress Shark – Woman Dances with Tiger Sharks</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/bluespheremedia”>Blue Sphere Media</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
More than a hundred sharks, most of them tiger sharks, were killed during a recent three-month government-sponsored trial program, and many more will be killed after the program resumes, as expected, later this year.
Additionally, the overfishing of sharks on a global scale, mostly to fill demand for fins used to make soup in Asian countries, kills millions of sharks annually, and threatens the existence of many species.
Fraser's message: "End the War on Sharks."
Fraser, an Australian, trained hard for her role in a project in which she interacted intimately with the apex predators, and at one point placed her hand on the snout of a 15-footer.
"I have swum with sharks before, but this is beyond next-level," Fraser stated in a behind-the-scenes video describing the daunting shoot.
Location for the "Tigress Shark" shoot: Tiger Beach, in the Bahamas.
This area is a known tiger shark haunt, and it's worth noting that its sharks are used to humans wearing scuba gear and blowing bubbles.
They are not, however, accustomed to the presence a slender woman with long, black hair flowing in the current, wearing no scuba gear, and adorned with tiger stripes painted on her skin to place her in proper character.
Heinrichs said of the shoot: "There was no room for error, as one mistake could have resulted in serious injury or worse. Despite the risks, the team was resolute in their mission to create the most groundbreaking imagery to oppose not only the Australia shark cull, but also the global slaughter of sharks."
The cull is intended to make Western Australia beaches safer for tourists and residents, although scientists and shark experts have gone on record saying that killing sharks merely lends the perception that waters are safe.
The program was launched in response to a spate of fatal shark attacks, mostly involving great white sharks, in recent years.
But tiger sharks and great whites, both of which attack seals and other large critters on the surface in ambush assaults, play vital roles in maintaining a healthy ecosystem.
Swimmers and surfers are aware of the risks of being attacked, which are minuscule compared to the risks involved in just about any other outdoor activity.
Added Heinrichs: "Despite intense domestic and international opposition, and overwhelming scientific evidence disproving the effectiveness and justification of the cull, the WA government remained resolute in carrying out the cull.
"Among the species most affected are tiger sharks, and despite the critical ecological role this species plays, and the fact that their numbers have already been severely depleted throughout their range … the government appears committed to reinstating the cull when they deem 'appropriate.'"
It's hoped that the accompanying video makes its way to Premier Colin Barnett, and pressure Western Australia to change its mind.
That is a longshot, but the video seems to be a dance step in the right direction.
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