Our team photographs and tags sharks, on a single breath of air, quietly, without the use of cages, protective devices, or noisy scuba equipment.
We take your last breath and exhale (we do almost all the tagging work on an exhale), relax and start our dive, making the duck dive as silent as possible, finning as much as is necessary and not more. Because we have exhaled on the surface, we start to sink very shortly after the duck dive. This allows us to stop moving early in the dive and to just glide as we descend. Now we look for the animal and try to anticipate its movements to arrive quietly next to it, close enough to place the tag using a modified speargun – the speargun shaft is made of a high tensile steel that allows for a cut-out within which the dart will sit and a stopper to limit the depth of penetration; the tag is attached to the dart by way of dyneema line, a rubber band holds the tag next to the shaft and allows it to easily release once the dart is placed; once the spearshaft enters the shark, penetrating the skin it will leave the dart behind as it is retrieved – we approach the animal silently and when in position we release the shaft, targeting the area next to the dorsal fin as this is the thickest area of muscle tissue which secures the tag well and does not harm the animal. Sharks have an amazing resiliency in their skin which allows them to heal very quickly.
This approach is the least stressful for the animal – other than the short-lived startle that arrives when the shafts penetrates their skin there is little stress to the animal as they are not captured, forced to fight and resist as they are drawn next to a boat to be restrained while a tag is placed. The whole event takes less than a few seconds and the animal leaves unharmed.
The goal is to respect the natural environment of the animals keeping the level of intrusion to a minimum. This respectful approach yields up close and personal interactions with the animals, which allow research to be carried out successfully. As proof is shown through the images our team brings back from expeditions, we have acquired a unique perspective on these animals which unfairly suffer from a very poor image in the media.