Alex Mustard - Reef Shark

 

Sharks are a curious subject. They are a dramatic creature, but also one that is unloved by a proportion of the population. Which is a great pity because few other large wildlife species on our planet are persecuted with such dedication by mankind.

The exact number of sharks that we catch and kill from our oceans is hard to exactly quantify, as a proportion of the fisheries are illegal. The most conservative estimate is 70 million animals and many populations are now regionally extinct. Worst still many are caught for the highly lucrative shark fin soup market, which means fishing boats cut off their fins, while the sharks are still alive and dump the still alive limb-less bodies back into the ocean, so that they don’t take up space on board and they can catch even more sharks. See Paul Hilton’s photo from this years WPOTY.
In short, sharks need friends, which makes it a challenge to shoot them in the right way. Dramatic images of teeth, gaping mouths and all, are eye catching and sell well (both to markets that want to promote and demonise sharks). But these images while exciting to shark lovers, reinforce fears about sharks to those who are not. In general, I try and make my shark photos a little more natural looking, so we can be impressed by their adaption to their environment, without reinforcing negative stereotypes. A peaceful image showing the predator, in this case a Caribbean Reef Shark in its habitat (a Caribbean reef) is what I am after.


Location: Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

Tags: Alex Mustard, Carcharhinus perezi, caribbean reef shark, Cayman Islands


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