Monday, 23 November 2015

Shark: Be awestruck

Exclusive interview with Steve Greenwood

We featured sharks in 'The Nova Red List' in Supernova vol. 3.2. Now, Supernova, the mag for curious kids had the privilege of interviewing Steve Greenwood, the producer of a new BBC Earth series, Shark.

Shark is a major wildlife series on the sharks of the world with over thirty species filmed, showing how they hunt, interact, court, and grow up, as well as the threats they face.

Shark, BBC Earth

How is Shark different from other television series on sharks?
Shark is very different from other TV shows on sharks. We filmed 30 species of shark and ray in dozens of countries around the world. We really are a global series. Our aim was to show the huge diversity of these wonderful creatures. We also filmed all aspects of their lives – from courtship and mating to how the young grow up and how they navigate the oceans. Most shark shows just concentrate on predation, but that is just one part of their lives.
Steve Greenwood

What did you learn about sharks (or a shark species) that you did not know before?
So many things! I was particularly amazed finding out how few young they have and how long they take to develop. Lemon sharks have just a dozen or so young every other year. Their babies even have belly buttons!

What was the most exciting moment the team experienced during filming?
We filmed ragged tooth sharks inside a shipwreck off the coast of the USA. We dived into the hold of this sunken ship and found ten or more sharks inside! But they were not at all interested in us.

Did you find yourselves in any frightening situations?
We spent 2600 hours filming sharks, but never had a single dangerous encounter. The most dangerous thing was the weather. We had a couple of hurricanes and a typhoon while filming.

Shark, BBC Earth

I’m sure you’ll agree that we are more of a threat to sharks than they are to us. Do sharks face any major threats besides humans?
I certainly agree that we are far more of a threat to sharks than the other way round. Sharks have few natural predators, though killer whales and seals may go for them. As their natural food is very often fish, my guess would be that declining fish stocks would be a very large threat.

Why is it so important to look after our sharks?
Sharks are top predators in the ecosystem of the sea. We know that on land if top predators, like wolves or big cats, are taken out of ecosystems, it can have a big effect on other species. It follows that the same effect will happen in the sea.

What can we, even children, do to help save threatened species?
There are lots of ways to help. Most importantly, take an interest in sharks and find out more about them. Tell your friends and family all the cool facts about them. If people say that sharks are horrible and scary then tell them they are fascinating, smart and complicated creatures, and humans pose more of a threat to them than the other way round. The first step in conservation is changing attitudes. As you get older, you may want to learn how to snorkel or scuba dive, then you could go and watch sharks in the wild. How cool is that?
Which shark of the thirty species filmed is your favourite and why?
Can I choose three favourites? The hammerhead looks the most amazing. The great white has the most incredible predation when it breaches out of the water when chasing seals. But my overall favourite is the manta ray as they are so beautiful, and they look at you with those big eyes with real intelligence. They also look as though they are from outer space!

Shark, BBC Earth

Shark premieres on Sunday 6 December 2015 at 16h00 on BBC Earth (DStv Channel 184).

Interview by Andrea Vermaak (Editor of Supernova, the mag for curious kids)