Sharks: Older Than Trees on YouTube

James Lea at work tagging a tiger shark (Ryan Daly / SOSF)
James Lea at work tagging a tiger shark (Ryan Daly / SOSF)

Shark divers might care to take 20 minutes to watch Sharks: Older Than Trees, Lost in Our Lifetime?, a new documentary created by the Save Our Seas Foundation (SOSF) in collaboration with Sea Change Project, and now on YouTube.

Directed by Pippa Ehrlich, co-director of the Oscar- and BAFTA-winning My Octopus Teacher, the film centres on Dr James Lea, a field biologist committed to a hopeful future for sharks and rays. 

Lea grew up dreaming of sharks, and in his first few years as a field biologist says he fell in love with the Red Sea’s silky sharks. He got to know many of the sharks as individuals, but in the space of a few years saw every one of these familiar animals lost to overfishing.

He resolved to use his scientific expertise to protect sharks in places where they might still have a chance to thrive.

“We rely on our oceans for food, livelihoods, climate regulation and our well-being, and sharks play many crucial roles in the stability of ocean systems,” says Lea. “Increasingly, we risk losing this stability through intense overfishing; global shark populations have declined by more than 70%. Sharks really, really need our help.

Silky sharks aggregate around the active volcano San Benedicto in Revillagigedo National Park off Mexico (James Lea / SOSF)
Silky sharks aggregate around the active San Benedicto volcano in Revillagigedo National Park off Mexico (James Lea / SOSF)

“This is where the science comes in. Filling knowledge gaps about sharks and their behaviour helps us to target conservation efforts, making sure they're as effective as possible.” The film includes both new and previously unseen archival footage from various parts of the world.  

“Although I love sharks, I never dreamed I would get to know, and grow deeply fond of, particular individuals,” says Lea. “These are connections I cherish, and ones that I hope future generations will get the privilege to experience too.”

Great transformation

“It was a joy to work with Pippa, James and the SOSF team,” says executive producer Craig Foster, co-founder of Sea Change Project. “This is a very important story – in a larger sense, perhaps the most important story…

“The great transformation many are praying for, where we prioritise Mother Nature in everything we do, will only come through massive multi-level collaboration. For Sea Change, it is a privilege to be a tiny cog in that very big wheel.”

Sharks: Older Than Trees has been playing at international film festivals and acquiring numerous award nominations, says the SOSF. It was proclaimed Best Documentary Short Film at the Braga Science Film Festival.

Also on Divernet: Divers catch grey reef sharks napping, Shark rivals adopt social distancing, Tiger shark genetics reveal surprising population separation, Diver pressure helps reach shark ‘turning point'


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