Papua New Guinea is home to some of the most beautiful and thrilling scuba diving on earth. The crystal clear water and abundant marine life create a perfect opportunity to study and photograph animals. Few places have such diverse or unique species and such pristine coral.
These environmental photographers embarked on a trip to a remote area of Papua New Guinea to study the behaviour of the white tipped reef sharks. They hoped to see a few of the sharks close enough to document their health and activities with photographs and videos. What they actually experienced was a much closer look than they ever expected as they were closely inspected by several large males and females.
Sharks are often misunderstood creatures with a reputation as being blood-thirsty killing machines. They are villainized in Hollywood movies and on social media, being blamed for attacks on humans that are far more rare, and far less dramatic than they are made out to be. Sharks are opportunistic feeders and they are largely scavengers, preying on the sick, or the dying animals in the ocean. In this way, they play a vital role in the overall health of the reefs and the ecosystem. They encourage the survival of only the fittest animals, contributing to thriving populations with superior genes.
Sharks are the top predator in most of the ocean, and they are designed for efficiency in carrying out their role. Sleek and graceful, they are a joy to behold as they cruise through the water. In an instant, they can accelerate and reach impressive speeds. They are powerful and fearless. Anyone who understands these beautiful creatures also understands that they rarely pose a threat to humans who are acting respectfully.
The role of sharks in the ocean's health is so important that biologists tell us that without them, the human race would ultimately also become extinct. Losing sharks would create a domino effect and would disrupt the world food chain so badly that we would also perish. Sharks have few natural predators, aside from humans. Illegal fishing and overharvesting has threatened many of the species. Certain markets create a demand for such products as shark fin soup, which results in sharks being mutilated and then discarded, left to die a cruel and slow death.
To lose these magnificent beasts forever would be beyond tragic.