I flipped through a book on harp seals in the late 1970s and saw images of them swimming in emerald green pools of water surrounded by huge sheets of ice. Right then I was hooked, and I knew this was a story I wanted to do.
Remove the predators, and the whole ecosystem begins to crash like a house of cards. As the sharks disappear, the predator-prey balance dramatically shifts, and the health of our oceans declines.
For a photographer, sharks are a stirring subject, possessing a perfect blend of grace and power. They have been sculpted by evolution and are ideally suited for whichever ecosystem they inhabit, from coral reefs to the open ocean.
I have been blessed to realize my dream of becoming an underwater photojournalist, but with that, I feel an obligation and sense of urgency to share what I have seen with others.
The Bahamas has mangrove nurseries, coral reefs, shallow sea grass beds, and deep oceanic trenches - all perfect ecosystems for sharks. Photographing multiple shark species in exquisite water was the assignment I had dreamed about from the start.
Sharks don't particularly have a great interest in divers. It seemed that in a normal dive, I would jump in the water, and one or two gray reef sharks would swim in and kind of check me out - and then they would keep their distance. So they weren't particularly threatening or anything to be afraid of.
Under the snowcapped mountains of Fiordland National Park, freshwater streams empty into the saltwater fiords, creating a unique ecosystem. This is a heavily wooded park, so the water in the streams is stained with tannin, a substance found in plants that makes clean water seem dirty, though it isn't.
I swam with my first shark in the 1980s. I was 20 miles off the coast of Rhode Island, working with a group of marine scientists. Late in the day, a 5-foot long blue shark swam into our chum slick. For the next hour, I marveled at the animal's stunning indigo color and the elegant way she moved effortlessly through the sea.