Perhaps the infamous Jaws was just looking for a bit of canoodling with his victims – much like these blue sharks. It certainly would turn the billion-dollar blockbuster on its head. However, on second thought, Jaws was definitely not looking for a cheeky kiss.
But not all sharks are as vicious as that 23ft man-eating shark, and that’s exactly what filmmaker Daan Verhoeven and freediver Beci Ryan wanted to show when they went freediving off the coast of Cornwall with blue sharks. Cornwall is Great Britain’s south-west peninsula and one of the only places in the world where you not only get to swim with blue sharks without a cage, but where you can also sneak a little peck on the cheek from one too.
“I wanted to go against the stereotype of portraying sharks as dangerous,” Verhoeven said. “I wanted to show their beauty and how you can swim with them without danger in their own environment.”
Blue sharks enjoy cold water and squid – not humans. In fact, as you can see from Verhoeven’s beautiful, meditative video, they’re nothing like Jaws – not even a distant cousin. Unlike Jaws who snacked on five people and one dog in just 124 minutes, blue sharks have only fatally bitten four humans… in 433 years. Nonetheless, Jaws’ ‘hangry’ behaviour has had larger implications – implications Verhoeven is trying to change.
“Sharks are under threat worldwide, as bycatching and actively hunted for their fins,” Verhoeven said. “I think part of the reason there’s not much public outcry over this is because they are seen as terrifying man killers. That image is unjust and I want to help change that.”
Even though blue sharks are not after your finger (nor neck) there is a thrilling element to swimming with them – after all they're wild animals and you’re in their environment.
“When diving with them, we stayed mainly on the surface to let the sharks come to us. They sometimes got a bit spooked if we tried to dive with them. But we did manage to also swim with them a few metres depth, which was both really thrilling and very chilled.”
Hmmm, might need to trust Verhoeven’s word on this one, but the intimate perspective shots with blue sharks are still pretty incredible though.
Verhoeven is no stranger to stunning freediving imagery – whether it’s documenting a rare sand waterfall or Stig Pryds' freedive in Dean's Blue Hole you can expect nothing but eye-popping footage from the filmmaker.