Monday, August 4, 2008

Fun and Education During Shark Week

Shark Week 2008 was a lot of fun at the Tennessee Aquarium. Underwater filmmaker Nick Caloyianis thrilled visitors with a special presentation focused on the late Peter Gimbel's life before a showing of the digitally remastered "Blue Water, White Death" which was directed by Gimbel. This was a ground-breaking film in so many ways. It was the first underwater documentary to capture images of great white sharks and also inspired Peter Benchley's thrilling novel "Jaws." Caloyianis pointed out that Peter Gimbel shot this film in a manner which holds up to today's digital standards. From a historical perspective watching this film in 2008, three things seem to leap off the screen at you. First, the whaling scenes evoke strong reactions from audiences. Some people have never seen whales being harpooned and thankfully there is much less whaling being done today than what was seen in 1971. However, there's still too many of these magnificent animals being slaughtered today. Second, the number of sharks seen by Peter Gimbel's crew in 1969 was unbelievable by today's standards. Nick Caloyianis was quick to point out this shift in shark populations. "What Gimbel saw was amazing. Literally hundreds of sharks everywhere. Today you can spend a few days in many of the same places they filmed "Blue Water, White Death" and only see a handful of sharks. The baselines are really shifting as we lose more and more sharks every year." Hopefully with more protection these awesome predators will be able to recover. Third, you gain a real appreciation for great white sharks watching this film. The camera shots are beautiful. You also see the power a big shark can unleash on a shark cage in one of the film's final scenes. (And you flash back to that famous scene from "Jaws".) In fact, the original Peter Gimbel shark cage from "Blue Water, White Death" is now on display at the Tennessee Aquarium thanks to Nick. People really enjoy stepping inside and posing for a toothy photo or two. Above you see Nick Caloyianis talking to a future shark diver about the newly released "Shark Handbook." Nick was the principal photographer for the was written by Nick's friend Dr. Greg Skomal, known by some as the Discovery Channel's "Shark Guy." The bottom picture features Nick Caloyianis and his partner, underwater photographer Clarita Berger hamming it up for the camera. Thanks Nick and Clarita! Can't wait to see your next film.

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