Location: Stewart Island, New Zealand
The B52 Stratofortress was the most feared sight in the skies for these huge planes were the harbingers of death capable of delivering catastrophic destruction to their chosen targets.
The same holds true for the capabilities of the Great White Shark. Attaining weights in excess of 5000lbs and lengths of over 20ft these are the ocean’s most formidable piece of piscine artillery.
As a young man in my early twenties I had always wanted to free dive with a great white shark. I had wanted to place myself in this animal’s world, free of protection but most importantly free of any preconceived ideas of what the shark would do. I just wanted to be there with The Great White and let it tell me its story.
What struck me most about my first truly free encounter with a great white shark was the silence.
There was no warning call from the prey.
There was no footfall of the approach of the predator.
There was just a presence.
With effortless ease of movement the shark spiralled downward towards me like a Greek god falling from the skies.
At a comfortable distance this huge shark orbited me. I was struck by its blend of prehistoric design along with all the modern evolutionary upgrades and highly advanced sensory ability. I was also struck by its saucer sized eyes that never stopped watching me.
Perhaps what was most striking was my vulnerability. I had no place to hide.
I was in this predator’s world where at the flick of a tail and the slash of its 250 pearly whites I could easily have been dispatched. It chose not wanton destruction but rather enlightenment. After several glorious passes at close quarters the Jagged-toothed one ascended and in so doing its flight path took it directly over my head.
I stared up in awe and for an all too fleeting instant I was in the shadow of greatness.
Exhibition: 120.5 cm x 173 cm (47.5″ x 68″)
Classic: 82 cm x 118 cm (32.4″ x 46.5″)
© Chris Fallows 2018