Sharkwater, an anti-Jaws film created by Rob
Stewart, was shown in Warmer Auditorium as part of the Viewpoints
film series on Jan. 30.
The viewing included free pizza and an introduction by biology
instructor Angela Constanzo.
Sharkwater started as a documentary to show the beauty of sharks
and the water world in which they live, said Stewart, who talks
in the film about his love for sharks and his desire to swim
and photograph them. He learned how to dive and became an underwater
photographer to get the shark photos he craved.
“They are amazing creatures, said HPU graduate student Kenneth Kirschnick,
who is working on his master’s degree in communication.
According to Stewart, who narrated the film, the stereotypes of sharks as dangerous
creatures was produced mostly by the media and the 1975 Steven Spielberg film,
Sharks are nothing like what we’re told,” Stewart said. The documentary
portrayed sharks as gentle and loving animals. It shied away from the stereotype
and focused more on their positive attributes.
Undergraduate, business major Melissa Batin said, “[Before viewing the
film,] I saw sharks more as monsters, but I now see them more as teddy bears.”
The main purpose of the documentary changed as it was being filmed. Stewart visited
different islands in the Galapagos to view sharks, and he soon discovered that
masses of them were being killed by long-lining fisherman and poachers who trapped
them, cut of their fins, and released them to die. At one location, Stewart found
160 sharks attached to the long lines.
The documentary included graphic scenes of dead and suffering sharks.
No one wants to save sharks,” Stewart said. “They want to save pandas
and elephants, but they are afraid of sharks.”
Stewart collaborated with conservationist Paul Watson, and using Watson’s
boat they began to chase and fight shark poachers. They did everything from hosing
poachers’ boats to ramming them. The two activists were themselves chased
by officials, and were kicked out of at least one country.
Watson, who was filled with passion, said, “You need individuals to start
up change.” Maybe the film did that.
Batin, among others, was moved. “The movie was heartbreaking, engaging,
and interesting,” she said.