GoPro's latest virtual reality video experience is just in time for Shark Week. But if you ask professional adventurer Jeb Corliss, he'll tell you it's just in time for sharks.
Each year, 100 million sharks are killed, many of them illegally. Misunderstandings perpetuated by hyped-up "mockumentaries" and movies such as Jaws or The Shallows, instill the kind of fear and apathy that justifies the deaths. Those attitudes are sending sharks into extinction, says Corliss.
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But GoPro's VR video, Diving with Sharks, the Truth Below the Surface, which features Corliss and shark expert and conservationist Jim Abernethy diving with hammerheads, lemon sharks, and Caribbean reef sharks in the Bahamas could help change attitudes.
"Diving with sharks is perceived as stunt," Matthew Reyes, strategic content manager at GoPro told DNews. "But by no means. These sharks have personalities; they are not man-eaters. How do we offset that?"
The video, which is also available here, opens with a night dive, where sharks emerge suddenly from a pitch black sea into a globe of light. Over the exaggerated exhales of a person (you) breathing through a regulator, another diver's hollow voice says, "Eyes open, look to your left" and then, "Shark coming in from the right side." It feels claustrophobic. Dangerous. The music quickens and your heart begins to beat a little faster.
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And then its daybreak on the bow of boat moving out to sea. Corliss's voice narrates, "We fear what we don't understand."
Corliss, better known for his sky diving, BASE jumping, and wing suit exploits -- including a recent wing suit flight over the Great Wall of China -- has been diving with sharks for 24 years.
He was 16 years old the first time he did it and he went in expecting what many people expect.
"I had a preconceived idea that is was going to be a super-high-energy, terrifying thing," he said. But when he got into the water, it was the opposite. The animals were peaceful, calm, docile. Corliss felt a serenity he hadn't expected.
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