In its day, the B52 Stratofortress was the most feared sight in the skies, a harbinger of death capable of rendering catastrophic destruction on its chosen target. The same holds true for the great white shark. Reaching weights in excess of 2,200 kgs and lengths of over 6 metres, the Great White is the ocean’s most formidable piece of piscine artillery.
As a young man in my twenties, I had always wanted to free-dive with a great white. I wanted to place myself in this creature’s world, without any protection and above all without any preconceived ideas of what the shark would do. I simply 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 was the silence. There was no warning call from prey, there was no footfall of the approach of a predator, there was just a huge presence.
With effortless ease of movement akin to that of an Olympic middle distance athlete, 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 in prehistoric design with all the modern evolutionary upgrades and highly advanced sensory ability. I was also struck by its saucer-sized black eyes that never stopped watching me.
I was in its 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 doing so its flight path took it right over my head.
In awe, I stared up 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″)
Large: 102 cm x 146 cm (40″ x 57.5″)
Classic: 82 cm x 118 cm (32.4″ x 46.5″)