A photojournalist in Africa has released an unusual series of images, documenting his quest to capture selfies amid a frenzy of blacktip sharks in a bid to highlight the predators’ vulnerability.
Aaron Gekoski, a 34-year-old originally from East Dulwich, dove into the waters off Umkomaas, South Africa to take the selfies, part of a project aimed at raising awareness of endangered and threatened species. As the Huffington Post reports, he and his colleague, Chris Scarffe, found themselves surrounded by nearly 30 blacktip sharks.
“At one point it all kicked off and I got hit in the face by a tail. I also got a face full of claspers – which is what we call shark genitalia. That was unpleasant,” he recalled. “At another point, one of the sharks got spooked and made a grab for my camera. I could have lost my fingers with that one.”
Descending onto the Aliwal Shoal reef for two hour-long sessions, Gekoski immersed himself among the sharks, capturing not only the selfies, but a video of the encounters that has been released on EpicTV. Utilizing specialized techniques like maintaining eye contact and making himself appear large, Gekoski was able to remain unharmed during the dive, as the Telegraph notes.
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) January 16, 2015
“I’ve been based in Africa for four or five years and I’ve done lots of diving with sharks, but this was definitely the most intense dive I’ve ever done,” he noted. “I wanted to get as spectacular footage as possible, so we baited the sharks heavily. I’ve never jumped into the middle of 30-50 sharks while they were feeding.”
Gekoski said that the team came up with the idea of a shark selfie to challenge misconceptions about the predators, pushing back at the public perception of the animals as dangerous man-eaters. Blacktip sharks, which are considered a threatened species, have far more to fear from man, he observed.
— katie klepek (@katetheshark) January 16, 2015
Though Gekoski isn’t the first diver to snap a selfie with a shark, as the Inquisitr previously reported, his experience is notable for the lack of a protective cage. When one of the sharks bit into a buoy line above his head, he experienced a near-miss that he didn’t fully appreciate at the time, calling the prospect of getting tangled in the line a “hairy situation.”
The full series of Gekoski’s shark selfies can be viewed at EpicTV.
[Image: Aaron Gekoski via the Telegraph]