I absolutely love my job. I am doing exactly what I said I wanted to do when I was a kid and was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. An underwater photographer is definitely not a normal job, but it has taken me all over the world and allowed me to earn a living doing what I love most. The best part of my job, though, is when I am leading a trip and I get to show people the places and animals I derive so much pleasure from. When you’re on a great dive with a group, and something unexpected shows up, like a sea turtle ascending from the depths of the ocean and looking you right in the face, you can feel the excitement of the group underwater. There’s nothing better than seeing a big smile on a guest’s face when we surface.
One recent memory comes to mind. I was leading small group in Mexico and one my best friends from college was able to join the trip. She had seen my photographs, but had never experienced the underwater world herself. It was a perfect day — 80 degrees both in and out of the water, a hundred foot visibility, and completely flat seas. After a quick snorkeling lesson on the boat, we hoped in. For about 30 minutes, we floated around and didn’t see anything, and then out of nowhere, completely silently, a 15-foot manta ray swam right next to us. It’s a unique feeling, one that makes you feel very tiny, swimming next to a giant fish like that in the middle of the open ocean. I could tell by the smile my friend had on her face when we surface that she was hooked. This was her first marine wildlife experience, but it wouldn’t be her last.
I tell this story because I hope that Please Be Nice To Sharks will give people a similar feeling that my friend had when she saw her first manta ray. I love sharks, and I think that if people see them, have fun with them and learn more about them, they will love them too. I hope that if children understand that sharks are actually pretty cool and not monsters, they will care about them enough to be upset by the fact that they are being hunted to extinction. After all, we protect what we love.
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