Every 60 seconds on average 200 sharks are lost from our oceans due to human impact. My mission for the 200 sharks project is to raise awareness about this incredible and venerable species before it is too late. Collecting a library of my own stories, photographs and paintings to highlight the beauty of each individual shark I dive with and capture. I want to illustrate that sharks are not mindless killers but complex, intelligent beings who are more than just a set of jaws. Hunting is only a very small part of the sharks life, new discoveries are showing a new side to their character. They have an intricate social life, complex courtship rituals, surprising ways of bringing up their young, intelligent ways of catching their prey, extraordinary powers of navigation and symbiotic relationships with the most unique creatures, even with us. Not to mention they come in the most beautiful different shapes, colours and sizes: there is more to them that meets the eye. There are over 500 species of sharks, but the shark family tree has two branches. The other half of the family is the Rays, these are flattened sharks, who share the same flexible cartilage skelton as the sharks. Many still have the tail tale dorsal fin but their pectoral fins have developed into enormous wings, some glide on ocean currents, whilst others fly by moving their wings in a wave like motion. Diving with Manta Rays in Komodo last year inspired me to include these amazing creatures into the project.
The more I dive with sharks and rays the more passionate and curious I become about them. This curiosity inspired my project and is why one of my aims is to dive, photograph and paint each shark and ray. Only when I have dived with the creature, captured them with my with mind and camera, can I truly communicate and paint them. This is why diving, photography and painting for me comes hand in hand. For me to paint I need emotion and diving allows me to experience all the senses which combined with my own photos, videos and memories provides the perfect potion for creating meaningful art.