If you’re at all familiar with sharks, you’ll know that the film Jaws was not exactly great PR for sharks. In fact, that movie had some fairly lasting negative impacts on how the public views sharks, even having an effect on shark management policy to this day. Thankfully, there are many, many incredible filmmakers that have created factual and impactful documentaries about sharks and the issues that they face. Below are just a few of my favorites (in no particular order)!
1. Shark Hunters
This film was created by one of my favorite shark conservationists, Madison Stewart. In this documentary, Madison interviews two prolific shark hunters, 'Mark the Shark' and Vic Hislop. When you watch this film, it is easy (and acceptable and expected) to be incredibly angry at these men for the harm they cause to shark populations. However, Madison approaches these shark hunters with a measure of empathy and an attempt at understanding while reminding the viewers that we can all do more in our everyday lives to protect chondrichthyans. Watch it on Vimeo here for free.
2. Blue Planet and Blue Planet 2
If you’re a huge fan of the ocean like I am, you’ve probably seen Blue Planet, a breathtaking BBC series about the wonders of the underwater world. It’s narrated by the inimitable David Attenborough and though it doesn’t focus solely on sharks, this beautiful production often mentions sharks and their role in the ocean ecosystem. As a disclaimer, I have only seen bits and pieces of Blue Planet 2, but based on what I’ve seen I believe that it is just as much of a masterpiece as the first series. In America, Blue Planet is available on Netflix.
This series is yet another example of British ingenuity in documentary filmmaking. Shark is a two-part series that is chock-full of both stunning images and fascinating facts. The documentary covers a broad range of sharks and other Chondrichthyans all over the world. Check it out on Netflix!
4. shark dive
Watching this documentary made me want to throw on my wetsuit and go diving immediately. This film has a first-person narration which gives it not only a pro-shark feeling but also a very pro-diving feeling. It’s available on Hulu and if you have the opportunity, I’d recommend watching it on as large a screen as possible because the camera work and the images are just gorgeous. Shark Dive might not provide the seasoned shark aficionado with a lot of new information but it is certainly a good reminder of the beauty and intrinsic worth of these amazing animals.
5. Mystery Sharks of Seattle
Disclaimer: I live in Seattle and I work at the aquarium featured in this documentary. That being said, this film discusses an intriguing fact that many Seattleites don’t even know: there are huge sharks in Seattle’s waters! Mystery Sharks of Seattle explores the somewhat sudden appearance of sixgill sharks in Puget Sound and hypothesizes about why these usually deep-dwelling sharks have come to the Sound’s relatively shallow waters. You can find it on YouTube here.
This is by absolutely no means an exhaustive list of great shark documentaries. I tried to choose films or episodes that you can find somewhat easily. Which shark documentaries are your favorites? Which ones have I left out? Let us know in the comments!
GUEST BLOGGER AND TFUI OFFICER MARGARET HANZLICK-BURTON
WHAT ELSE MARGARET HAS WRITTEN:
TFUI Founder Melissa C. Marquez is author of all animal bios and "Behind the Fins" segments.
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