Shark Dive (2015) Movie Script

(relaxing flute and piano music)
For some reason, I never remember
the dreams I have at night.
For me, the closest thing to a real dream
is being underwater.
It's almost silent.
You see shadows in the distance.
You don't really know what's beyond you.
Time slips by.
You get completely lost in another world.
It's the greatest escape imaginable,
and it's why I live to dive.
(relaxing instrumental music)
(trains and people rushing by)
I was born in New York City.
But I knew I wouldn't stay.
I didn't wanna live my life midst concrete and chaos.
(police sirens)
I knew my home was somewhere else.
Turns out, it's in the ocean!
(waves crashing)
(rock guitar music)
I've been filming wildlife for over 15 years.
In that time, I've traveled the world with my camera,
meeting all sorts of creatures that
most people will never see in person.
Still, my favorite gig, and the majority of my work,
happens underwater.
I spend so much time submerged,
I sometimes forget I'm in the underworld.
(ethereal instrumental music)
By now, I feel safer underwater swimming with sharks,
than I do on city streets.
I feel at peace, when I'm hanging out with sharks.
They're majestic and timeless creatures.
It's kind of like swimming in an underwater world
of dinosaurs.
Actually, sharks outlived dinosaurs.
They were here nearly 200 million years before T-Rex.
They're one of the only species on the planet
that has survived the mass extinctions.
These days, humans are clearly the planet's top predator.
But once you enter the water with sharks,
you are intensely in the food chain.
On the menu.
Not maliciously, but, ecologically,
you are no longer the alpha.
(dramatic instrumental music)
Jumping in is usually a little unsettling.
As soon as I splash into the water,
millions of micro-bubbles cloud my vision.
All I can see at first, is a white effervescent fizz,
and I know when it clears, I could be surrounded
by dozens and dozens of sharks.
Or, in the company of just one Great White.
When I'm filming, I've got my camera electronics on,
and my breathing is making noise.
Even the sound of my heart beat
is emitting an energy detectable by sharks.
So basically, I'm tantalizing all the sharks' senses.
Oh, and there's one more thing.
Often, I'm jumping in to a liquid space,
where I've just been throwing bait.
(powerful guitar music)
Sharks generally mind their own business.
They really don't want anything to do with humans.
Because, they seem to understand
that we are dangerous to them.
So even though I love sharks,
I can't assume they feel the same way about me.
But I trust them.
So much so, that I bring my wife Emma down with me.
She doubles as a photographer, and my safety diver.
I haven't always trusted sharks.
At first, I was a bit nervous entering their world,
with all those preconceived notions and Jaws legends
running through my mind.
To jump in with them, you really do have to
override your natural born instinct
and ignore what you've been told your whole life,
that sharks are out to get you,
and that they will eat you.
Sharks do sneak up on you from behind,
and prefer ambush tactics.
It's evolutionary design.
But I've learned, it's not a malicious ambush.
It's biological.
It's, simply survival.
So, I try not to take it personally, or let it frighten me.
They've been hunters in these waters for millions of years.
They've learned to investigate whatever's around them,
often bumping into things with their snouts,
to test if they're edible.
(snout bonks camera)
Their methods show a higher intelligence.
They won't just rush out and bite whatever they see.
They are cautious, and calculating.
Now that I know them better, I realize,
they're on their own marine mission to survive.
And I'm just along for the ride.
(majestic instrumental keyboard music)
There are more than 40 species of sharks in the Bahamas,
which makes it one of my favorite diving spots
on the planet.
Of all the sharks to explore here,
I've learned that Caribbean Reef Sharks
are the best to swim with.
They're beautiful.
They're graceful.
And, they're extremely friendly.
Emma and I can be surrounded by dozens of them,
without having a care in the world.
It's almost as if, they're excited that we're here!
Or perhaps, just waiting to find out if we brought them
anything good to eat.
There's one particular reef shark we see,
almost every time we go down here.
He's been hanging around this wreck for at least 10 years.
We call him "Joker".
He has this crooked smile,
probably from a fishing hook,
a narrow escape from man.
He's a really cool shark, because,
with a broken jaw, he could have easily perished,
not being able to hunt properly.
But lucky for him, he's a reef shark.
Reef sharks often display a pack mentality,
not usual for most shark species.
His comrades hunt successfully,
and he's able to live on their scraps,
rather than having to make it on his own.
His pack buddies probably helped him survive.
But not all sharks are this nurturing.
(intense electronic music)
There are times when we have to wait for the sharks
to come to us.
From the looks of the animals around us,
something big is on its way.
It's not that normal for fish
to follow their own predator out of a scene.
I still remember the first Great White I ever saw.
It appeared out of nowhere,
emerging from the depths, completely silent,
as if it were levitating.
It swam right up to me,
flashing its white razor teeth and its inquisitive eye,
only a few inches from my face.
It's a shock, even when you're waiting,
hoping for that encounter.
Great Whites are the most dangerous sharks on the planet.
They're perfect killers,
designed to blend in with the ocean.
A shark may go unnoticed by prey swimming overhead.
It's grey top half is camouflaged in dark water below,
and from beneath, the shark's white underbelly
matches the sunlit surface behind it.
They don't give themselves away easily,
with dark silhouettes, like their own prey.
(intense and powerful guitar music)
People wonder why White sharks
seem to be constantly moving, with their mouths open.
An avalanche of razor blades, hurtling toward you,
ready to strike.
They look so sinister, but they just can't help it.
The truth is, most sharks have their mouths open
for another reason.
It's the only way they can breathe.
To get oxygen across, into their bloodstream,
water has to pass through their mouths,
and out of their gill slits, constantly.
So White sharks can't sit still.
They have to keep swimming,
and swimming,
and swimming.
(waves crashing)
I'm not a surfer.
I'd rather be down below, any day.
It's amazing to me,
that there are so many surfers out there
who never see sharks.
I would guarantee they're all being watched.
It's rare for a shark to attack a surfer.
I'm sure that possibility is at the back of
every surfer's mind.
Cause the reality is, when you're up on a surfboard,
you have very little visibility of what's underneath.
(waves crashing)
When I'm underwater, my visibility is limited too.
If there are sharks in the area, I always assume
that they will see me first.
We filmed these Galapagos sharks directly off-shore,
from the surfing mecca of the world.
They're versatile sharks.
They like the shallows,
but they also like to hang out in deep water,
sometimes over a thousand feet.
(relaxing guitar music)
It's a really cool dive out here.
You look down, and you just see this fathomless blue.
You never really know what's lurking down there.
Deep water has that sort of mystery.
You see nothing but blue.
But if you stick around long enough, eventually,
something will come up to have a look at you!
Most of the open ocean looks like this,
Infinite empty blue.
It's a virtual desert.
For stretches of hundreds of thousands of miles,
there's no life or food.
Critical to the ocean's survival are those other places,
abundant with life.
In nearly every ocean basin in the world,
not just this one,
there are underwater islands known as seamounts.
Typically, extinct volcanoes, these rock formations
are biological hot-spots for all kinds of sea creatures.
Their steep sides rise up from the ocean floor,
thousands of feet below,
creating currents that pull nutrients from the colder water,
up to the sunlit surface.
There's so much life clinging to these rocks.
I'm almost 100 feet deep, where there is barely any light,
but there are still massive amounts of fish down here.
When I'm working around a reef,
I like to capture the overall picture
and structure of the reef,
not just the schools of life that live within it.
I look at the ledges the fish use to hide themselves.
Hanging out underneath, they avoid their predators.
The fish like to bunch up together,
and operate as one big biomass,
so its hard to get to know the individuals.
What's really fun is filming the larger mega-fauna,
like these Sea Lions.
You can kind of get into their heads,
and learn their personalities.
This is one of my favorite places to dive with sea lions.
(magical guitar music)
It's in an area where there definitely could be sharks,
but for some reason, these sea lions
seem to be so placid, so relaxed.
The visibility here is so good
that even I relax along with them.
It's rare for me to feel totally calm, when I'm
filming one of the Great White shark's favorite prey.
Effectively, I am the slowest seal out here.
The least vigilant.
The least capable of escaping a Great White.
But here, for some reason, I don't really have any fear
that a shark is going to come hunt me down.
So it's a cool chance,
for me to get to play with the sea lions.
To get to know them a little better.
To check out their acrobatics.
Often when I'm filming sea lions,
they just play amongst themselves.
They know I'm there, but they just kind of
go about their business.
But this guy must see his reflection in the glass of my lens
and comes to check it out.
(ethereal keyboard music)
It's quite different, filming sea lions than sharks.
Unlike sharks, sea lions aren't limited to just moving
foward, left or right.
They can move in any direction, any time they want.
They go backwards.
Do loop-de-loops.
Go upside down and forwards.
They've evolved to be agile, to avoid being eaten.
And of course, they use this agility
for their own hunting prowess.
Or, just for fun, in a game of catch the starfish!
(playful jazzy music)
I love diving in as many different and strange places
as I can get to.
Sometimes, they're in my own back yard.
As you move in from the Florida coast line,
salt water gives way to fresh water.
Mangrove tunnels lead straight to the water's
salt-free source.
Beneath these roots, springs bubble up from the groundwater,
hundreds of feet below the sand.
This is just part of an underground river.
Centuries ago, its roof collapsed,
creating a cave that lets divers inside,
to explore the river's dark path.
The water here is like glass,
filtered by the cave's limestone walls.
Light comes in through the cracks,
spreading into eerie shafts.
Down here, a diver looks almost like an apparition.
It gets a little unnerving, as I go deeper into the cave,
and start losing the light.
At first, I don't wanna stray too far from the sun.
But after a while, I start to appreciate the darkness,
and kind of hide away in my mind.
But I don't go too far.
I have to keep track of the entrance,
so I know where to go when I need to get out.
A lot of people get lost in caves,
and if I run out of air, and can't find the entrance,
I'm not going to make it out alive.
Tight spaces can lead to dead ends,
trapping you in a lethal maze.
When I'm in total darkness, blind to what's around me,
only a compass can get me out.
Diving here is nerve-wracking,
without the freedom of open water.
But I rarely pass up the opportunity
to explore something new.
(water bubbling)
The deep warm waters off the coast of Cat Island
are the best place in the world to dive with
Oceanic White Tips.
They're open ocean rovers,
rarely venturing into shallow water.
If they do come near land,
they like the places where it drops
straight down into the sea.
Ocean White Tip sharks are the tricksters of the ocean.
They're known for their incredibly long paddle-like fins,
which help them glide vast distances through the water.
But don't let their serene and slow-moving nature fool you!
They're still intensely impressive hunters.
How can they be a combination of the two?
Well, there are many different theories.
One is, that the advantage lies in their white tips.
They look painted, like someone took an airbrush to them.
Other fish might mistake the white markings
on their fin tips for a small school of bait fish.
The fins move together, as little fish do,
while the dark body is hidden in the background
of the ocean.
This potentially tricks larger fish to come in close,
for what looks like a meal.
And instead, they end up in the jaws of a shark.
For some reason, Oceanic White Tips travel with
black and white Pilot fish, more than other sharks do.
These tag-a-longs know that if they stick with this predator
they'll get both his scraps, and his protection.
This guy has a hook imbedded in his pectoral fin.
It's a tell-tale sign sharks and humans do co-exist,
and not always easily.
They compete with eachother for food sources.
It's most likely this hook was attached to a game fish,
like a Mahi-Mahi, or a Marlin.
The shark may have stolen a meal from a fisherman's line,
and in turn, got a hook lodged in its fin.
Oceanic White Tips are dangerous sharks,
but they can also be just really relaxed
when you're swimming with them.
Just three years ago, this was a very different scene.
We only saw two White Tips that season,
both very skittish.
Now, things have changed.
People are more interested in coming to see sharks,
and it also works the other way around.
On some level, humans seem to be conditioning
certain species of sharks to adjust their behavior,
and show up more regularly at popular shark dive sites.
Sharks are not stupid.
For thousands of years, they've shown up at the
same seal colonies, and same reefs,
where they know they can get a meal.
Now, they have learned, they can go to a certain location,
at certain times of the year,
and get fish handed to them,
essentially for free,
without having to hunt for it.
It's an extraordinary relationship that's developed.
And one that's still evolving.
(water bubbling)
(ethereal plucking instrumental music)
Each kind of shark hunts and survives
in its own unique way.
So different species can live in the same ecosystem,
without being a threat to each other.
Probably no shark is as weirdly and mysteriously customized,
as the Great Hammerhead.
They're incredibly agile sharks, almost like a serpent,
in the way they can turn so quickly.
A huge dorsal fin and stretched out head
helps them fine tune their balance and movement.
To see a Hammerhead swimming by,
is to realize just how crazy evolution can be.
No one really knows why Hammerheads evolved
into such an extreme shape.
Even filming them can be more difficult,
because of their behavior and weird biology.
When it swims right at you, a 12-foot Hammerhead
is likely going to bump into your camera,
regardless of which way it turns.
Their eyeballs have good peripheral and binocular vision,
which helps with hunting.
But just how well can Hammerheads see,
right in front of their faces?
That's unclear.
Not that they need to see, anyway.
They know you're there.
Like all sharks,
Hammerheads have special pores on their heads,
that can detect minute electrical fields coming
from any living object.
They know when prey is close to their mouths,
even when they can't see it.
And Hammerheads have a lot more sensory neurons
than most sharks.
The sharks even use their hammer-shaped foreheads
like metal detectors,
to uncover prey from under the sand.
And also, like hammers, to pin down their prey
and consume it.
A Hammerhead's leftovers
are a nice compliment to a Nurse shark's menu.
They have very small blunt teeth,
which pretty much puts them at the bottom
of the shark totem pole.
But Nurse sharks do have their own secret weapon.
They work like vacuum cleaners,
sucking up food scraps into their mouths.
It seems like this greedy Hammerhead
isn't quite sure she's had enough.
But really, I think she comes in sometimes
just to assert her dominance.
When it comes to survival,
there are no guarantees.
As hostile as the ocean can be,
it is every bit as serene.
The most surprising thing
about being underwater in the ocean,
is the quiet.
Is the all-encompassing peace and silence
that you encounter while diving.
You do hear the sound of the water movement.
The power of the ocean.
But it's not a violent sound.
It's soothing.
Kinda like a lullaby.
It puts you in this strange transcendental state.
You hear more of your own thoughts,
your own heartbeat,
your own breathing.
It feels like everything underwater slows down,
and you're able to appreciate all the beauty
that's around you.
It all just moves and live and breathes,
in slow motion.
Time is different in this world.
The ocean's timelessness, for me,
can also be experienced through its captives,
the shipwrecks, scattered across sea floors, the world over.
Once, this was a bustling, sea-going vessel,
and now, it's a post-apocalyptic city for sea creatures.
Humans built this ship.
It sunk.
And now, it's being re-purposed by the ocean.
It's a clear reminder,
that people aren't made to last in this environment.
No matter how much I enjoy being down here,
I'm not meant to stay for long.
Florida has one of the largest concentrations
of freshwater springs on Earth.
Making it the perfect aquarium
for many different species of fish,
some interesting reptiles,
and favorite home of the Manatee.
Every winter, hundreds of manatees
leave the cooler temps of the Gulf of Mexico behind,
to enjoy the constant 72 degrees of these spring-fed waters.
The 30 natural springs in Crystal River alone,
add an average of 300 million gallons of water to the river
every day.
Some biologists consider this area
the most important refuge for manatees in the United States.
And, it's one of the only places humans are allowed
to interact with them.
So naturally, this is my go-to spot,
for spending time with manatees.
Manatees are known as the "sea cow" for good reason!
The massive mammal moves at a relaxed pace,
and at times, barely at all,
making them easy to film.
Despite their size, they're such graceful swimmers.
What amazes me, is that there can be an animal
this big, this slow, this docile,
that can survive in this harsh world.
But I'm glad that it does!
It probably won't be here for long.
At winter's end, they'll revisit the home they share,
peacefully, with sharks.
Tiger sharks are pretty calm, placid, beautiful sharks.
Until they're not.
When they're hungry, things can get a bit scary.
Tiger sharks have a ferocious appetite.
After Great Whites, they're known as the world's
most dangerous sharks.
They're responsible for the second-most attacks on humans.
But the number of people they've bitten,
is far outweighed by everything else they eat.
Fish, turtles, sea snakes, other sharks, even plastics,
and sometimes garbage.
There's almost nothing a Tiger shark won't try.
Contrary to what most people think,
sharks rarely come around humans,
unless you attract them with food.
So to bring Tiger sharks to us,
we're making use of a pig carcass we found
washed out to sea.
(dramatic music)
As predicted, these guys aren't too picky.
Once the sharks have had their fill,
I feel more comfortable moving in to film.
But you can never be too careful.
When I see a shark, I size it up.
Not all sharks are the same.
In fact, they're all very, very different.
They each have their own unique personalities.
Some are bold, some are shy.
Some are a bit unpredictable, just like people.
My trust level with each shark varies,
based on my own one-on-one experiences with it.
And their moods can change very quickly,
so it's important to be ready for anything.
If I could pick, generally,
I'd wanna dive with female sharks.
I've found them to be less aggressive, more relaxed,
but they're also typically bigger than the males,
and can boss the guys around if need be.
One special female, is a shark called "Curly".
Like all Tigers, she has the dark stripes on her side
that gives them their name.
And she's taught me a lot about how to film her species.
If I stand my ground and remain calm, Curly respects that.
Sometimes, she seems confused.
Why am I swimming toward her,
when everything else in the ocean swims away?
It's almost a mind game.
If I'm not fleeing,
I must not be something she'd normally eat.
From what I've learned,
if a shark keeps coming back around in a relaxed state,
they like what's going on.
I've even seen them swim straight past the bait,
more interested in tactile human interaction than food.
Sharks never cease to surprise me.
I discover something new from each one I swim with.
(dramatic waltzing music)
This is one of the Great White shark's favorite meals.
The Elephant Seal.
A Northern Elephant Seal weighs in at more than 3000 pounds.
For a shark, just one successful attack
brings a huge reward.
They kill dozens of them each year,
just off the coast of Guadalupe Island.
So it's easy to understand why these seals
can be pretty shy.
The only way to film an elephant seal is to spend some time,
approaching slowly, until you earn its trust.
And then, I just let things play out.
I was able to connect with this guy,
and he became as curious of me, as I was in him.
Elephant seal eyes are so human-like,
they sort of, pull you in, and put you at ease.
It makes you forget this animal could easily crush you,
if it wanted to.
You'd never guess it from the looks of one,
but on the sand, an elephant seal can outrun a human.
The only place in the ocean
I've been able to film elephant seals successfully,
is in the shallows.
When they go to sea,
they dive to amazing depths, up to 5000 feet,
and can hold their breaths, for over an hour!
Elephant seals have to exhale before each dive,
and they seem to spend a lot of time practicing.
This seal and I spent almost an hour hanging out together.
I was a bit sad to leave him behind,
knowing well that a Great White could be on the way.
(dramatic instrumental music)
Nothing about diving in South Africa is easy.
The water is freezing, and generally, super murky.
And on top of that, I'm usually here to film the ocean's
quintessential predator,
the Great White shark.
In a matter of seconds,
it can rip a 50 pound chunk of flesh from a live animal,
generally, removing either the head or the tail.
Cognition or propulsion.
Either one will work.
All of its senses are coordinated to attack
usually before prey even knows it's there.
Great Whites are specialized surface hunters.
They can raise their heads above the water,
to see what's going on around them.
Watching from the boat feels like a safe enough perspective,
but the ferocious way a Great White goes for bait
still sends chills up my spine.
Sometimes, a curious individual
comes in a little too close for comfort.
You try to keep the shark in its world,
so you can stay in yours.
Most divers wouldn't think of going in the water
with a Great White,
especially without a cage.
But the bars limit my shots.
So I take the risk.
I have to remind myself not to panic.
It will alter a shark's behavior.
If you act like prey, you're more likely to become prey.
So I quickly focus on framing the shot,
and the technical side of filming, to keep calm.
Some of these Great Whites are so curious,
they come straight in, completely fearless.
And it's only at the last second, I realize,
that this thing is right on the other side of the lens.
One time, while filming from the boat,
a particular shark started swimming straight toward me.
I was completely in a trance, trying to frame my shot.
The shark lunged at the camera, and opened its mouth.
I could only hold the camera up for so long,
and as it splashed back into the water,
it revealed the shark's fin,
half bitten off, by another shark.
This shot is all we have to tell the story.
We'll never really know what happened here.
Were two sharks fighting over prey?
Was the other shark trying to make this shark prey?
In all this water,
there are so many mysteries left to answer,
so I keep coming back,
hoping that I can capture shots as bits of evidence,
to help us piece together the way the ocean works.
(serene instrumental music)
A familiar scene when I dive,
one that would frighten most,
is a diver on the ocean floor,
surrounded by dozens of reef sharks.
If they wanted, a pack of sharks
could easily devour a human.
But the harmony in this moment symbolizes
what the ocean can be.
(inspiring instrumental music)
When I look up and see the boat,
it's like a portal to the other world.
But I'm in the underworld, with the sharks.
It's where they belong,
and it's where I feel I belong.
But it's good to know that the boat is right there.
It's a humbling thing,
knowing that if you run out of air here,
you will die.
I realize all my dives are temporary.
I don't want to go.
I want one more shot.
One more moment.
But I know I can't stay down here forever.
(gentle instrumental music)