Written by Jillian Morris
The last twelve years of my life have been heavily influenced by sharks. During my time at University I did an internship with Mote Marine Lab, which opened my eyes to the incredible world of shark science and research. I was hooked; pun intended! From there I continued to gain experience working as volunteer with the Bimini Biological Field Station and then later as a research assistant with the Shark Bay Ecosystem ResearchProject. I became a dive instructor along the way and always had a camera with me. These experiences merged and evolved into my career as a videographer and photographer.
I am currently based in the Bahamas where I am able to dive with and film sharks in my backyard. My husband Duncan and I run a conservation media company called OceanicAllstars with a focus on shark education and conservation. We have traveled the world to film and dive with sharks. Our goal is to share the beauty of these animals with as many people as possible. They say an image is worth a thousand words, so a video can be even more powerful. Media stereotypes include the monster mentality of sharks far too often, so we are hoping to provide the audience with a different, more realistic perspective. With this approach our images and videos become an educational tool, which has lead to the creation of Sharks4Kids.
Sharks4Kids is a Florida based non-profit that I started working on in 2008. I wanted to create educational materials not only for students, but also guides for educators, so they would be more inclined to introduce sharks and shark conservation into their curriculum. I worked to collect images, videos and experiences that I finally brought together in 2013 and launched our website. Duncan and best friend, Dr. Derek Burkholder helped make my dream a reality and at this point we have connected with over 10,000 kids in 20 different countries both in person and via Skype to share shark education. My happiest moments are sharing sharks with kids, seeing their optimism, empathy and excitement. The world of shark conservation can be frustrating and heartbreaking on the best days, but kids give me hope. Hope for a future where we still have sharks in our oceans.
Each day is different and whether I am filming sharks for a BBC shark program or helping the Sharklab with a project, my main goal is to spread the message of shark conservation to as many people as possible. We can all make a difference and we can all do something, no matter how old or young.