Stunning Photos Of Sharks And People Document A Vulnerable Species

July 9, 2014 3:30 PM

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Stunning Photos Of Sharks And People Document A Vulnerable Species

This place has all the ingredients of shark paradise: Rich ocean currents, a bountiful food supply, and remoteness. Historical accounts of ships sailing these waters tell of an ocean so full of sharks that one could walk on their backs across the sea; of hammerheads the size of whales and schools of reef sharks so vast that, seen from underwater, they blocked out the sun. But my first sight as I descend is not of a shiver of sharks but of a massive gill net draped over a reef like a deflated balloon. A purple triggerfish beats its winglike fins but is going nowhere, the net ensnaring it in a deadly embrace. I take a few photographs to document the scene then cut the fish free with my dive knife. In just one hour I observe a dozen nets drifting in and out of view, as the current relentlessly propels me past steep walls, over coral gardens, and around undersea pinnacles. The underwater landscape is majestic but seemingly absent of sharks and other big fish.

The ghost fishing nets become my constant companions for days on end. An entire week of diving passes before I see the first shark—a juvenile reef shark barely the length of my forearm entangled in a discarded gill net. The net is sea-beaten and worn but still able to inflict damage. The shark is al...

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