SAND TIGER SHARKS:
Rick Allen capturing footage of a North Carolina Sand Tiger shark lazily cruising the wreck of the Atlas. Photo courtesy of the talented Jonathan Bird of Oceanic Research.
Three North Carolina Documentary Producers
Bring You Face To Face With The Fiercest Fish In
MOREHEAD CITY -- Thirty miles off the Crystal Coast lies the
rusting hulk of the Hutton (formerly known as the Papoose), a World War
II tanker torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat in March of 1942. Now
lying upside down in 125 feet of water, she has become home to countless
sea creatures; numbered among them, hundreds of Sand Tiger sharks.
"Every time I go down there, I see them stacked one on top of
the other," said Rick Allen, one of a trio of adventurers who make up
the team called R2G Productions. "They are incredibly beautiful
animals. Sleek, majestic. Itís like watching a ballet underwater. I
wish everyone could see them."
And now everyone can.
Sand Tigers: Sentinels of the Deep premiered on the 11-station
UNC-TV network in 2000. The first documentary
from R2G, the one-hour special includes stunning underwater video of
these creatures as they interact with a group of divers intent on
getting as close as they can to nature.
"The sharks come right up to the divers, and the divers are in
the water with them without shark cages. They are literally nose to
nose," said writer and co-producer Robert Carver. "There is even a shot
where a shark bumps the camera housing. Just amazing stuff."
Allen and Carver, both veterans of the news wars at Triangle
stations WRAL and WTVD, partnered with production-house operator and
on-line tape editor Greg Davis to form the hybrid R2G Productions. Both
experienced divers, Allen and Davis found Carverís land-lubbing
perspective a plus for the project, especially when it came to telling
the story of the sharks and their environment.
"We didnít want Sentinels to be only about fantastic pictures,"
explained Davis. "We wanted to tell viewers about whatís happening in
the habitat where these sharks live."
Sand Tigers: Sentinels of the Deep takes a hard look at the
whether Sand Tiger Sharks can survive in the ocean environment created
by the humans who live above them.
In interviews with top scientists who have spent their lives
sharks, Sand Tigers attempts to shed light on the debate. On one side,
environmentalists like the Environmental Defense Fundís Dr. Douglas
Rader argue the fishing industry is decimating the shark population by
targeting the areas where sharks mate, on rock outcroppings and
artificial reefs like sunken ships, areas that are known to man and
therefor make sharks particularly vulnerable. Combined with a
reproductive rate of only two young a year, environmentalists say the
equation adds up to ecological disaster for the Sand Tiger and its
But a world-renowned
researcher disputes that, saying those arguments have lead to protective
quotas based on faulty data that has unfairly hamstrung the fishing industry.
With nearly a half century of shark studies to his credit, Dr. Frank Schwartz
of the University of North Carolina Institute of Marine Sciences takes
the viewer on a shark-tagging expedition in the waters just off Morehead
City. He does not believe sharks are in peril and hopes his research will
bear out his theories.
Through science and scenery, sharp tongues and sharper teeth,
Sand Tigers: Sentinels of the Deep will take you on a fantastic voyage
only an intrepid few have experienced. The journey is made all the more
special, because it takes place off the coast of North Carolina and not
in some far-off ocean on the other side of the world.
Sand Tigers: Sentinels of the Deep - check your local listings on North Carolina Public
Nautilus Productions Projects