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Shark Week Brings Back Memories for UW Photographer

Amos SharkFor Amos Nachoum, this week’s Discovery Channel 2009 Shark Week promotion brings back fond memories of his award-winning photo expedition to South Africa where he captured one of the most talked about great white shark images of the past decade.

Nachoum, a former member of the Israeli special forces unit, long ago traded bullets for film and pixels. He recalls the hours of preparation and planning for the split-second shot that won the 2007 BBC wildlife photo of the year. “It wasn’t easy – you have to wait, wait and wait some more so that when the sharks do appear you are ready.”

The group of photographers were just off the coast of Seal Island, South Africa pulling a large “dummy seal” at the surface to attract the sharks. “The sharks can see images at the surface and come up fast to strike. At 40-60 feet depths, the sharks come to the surface quickly and often breach (or break) the surface in spectacular fashion. I was fortunate that I had the camera in a vertical position to capture the entire shark. They normally don’t come that far out of the water.”

Nachoum admits that he “knew” he had the shot moments after if happened, but had to wait until the film was developed (the shoot happened in 2002 just prior to the explosion and growth of underwater digital photography). “That one image has been seen all over the world. People have tried to duplicate the shot, but the colors, lighting, the shark’s position and other intangibles likely won’t ever come together in that way again. It was an incredible experience that I’ll long remember.

Today, Nachoum leads adventure photographic expeditions including Great White Shark trips to Guadalupe, Mexico. His company, Big Animal Adventures, provides exclusive up close and personal underwater interactions – very similar to some of the adventures highlighted on Discovery Channel Shark Week 2009.

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