Freediving And Fins Up For Sharks At Suunto Vertical Blue

My husband and I filmed Suunto Vertical Blue in 2010 and were thrilled to be invited back to film this year’s event. Dean’s Blue Hole offers a stunning backdrop for arguably one of the most beautiful sports in the world. Divers from around the world travel here for competition, camaraderie and a true feeling of community.

We spend most of our time filming and photographing sharks, so this was a nice change up from our normal repertoire, but we still managed to find sharks and shark lovers. Freedivers have a very intimate connection to the ocean and the animals that inhabit it, including sharks. It is fairly obvious within minutes of meeting us that we love these animals, whether it’s from our clothes, our stories or our tattoos. Conversations about sharks quickly developed and each diver we chatted with had a beautiful story to tell.

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Freedivers giving the FINS UP for sharks. Image: Jillian Morris

A few of the safety divers encountered several Caribbean reef sharks while spearfishing just offshore and even had a great hammerhead cruise in. Nik, a member of the safety team, ran up to me the morning after to tell me all about it and it was amazing to see his excitement from the very special moment. We have a friend who has lived on the island for 13 years and has only see one hammerhead, so this was truly a unique encounter for these guys.

Others visited the Flying Fish Marina to see nurse, Caribbean reef and lemon sharks, which gather near the docks as fishermen clean their catch at the end of the day. We made a few trips down to the marina to get our shark fix as well.

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Jillian with students at Mangrove Bush Primary. Image: Duncan Brake

Our busy filming and editing schedule did not leave us any time to head off shore for a dive, but we did visit two of the local schools to speak to students about sharks. We run a shark education non-profit called Sharks4Kids and classroom visits are a huge part of our program. The Bahamas is one of only 10 shark sanctuaries in the world and we love speaking to kids about how important this is. We also want them to be proud of what they are a part of and get excited about protecting the beautiful ocean that is their backyard. We spoke to students in grades 1-6 at Mangrove Bush Primary and Lower Deadman’s Cay Primary and both groups were awesome. They had great questions and all were excited to share with us their own shark stories!

The Bahamas is a true shark haven with a great diversity of species, thriving shark eco-tourism and ground breaking shark research, so connecting with these kids is important for continuing to keep these islands in the forefront of shark conservation and education.

We also brought Shark Stanley, Shark Defenders’s mascot for protecting sharks with us. He visited the schools, swam in Dean’s Blue Hole and made some freediver friends. It was beautiful to see the connection between the school, the divers and the island all united by a love for the ocean.

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William Trubridge giving the FINS UP for sharks. Image: Duncan Brake
Jillian Morris Brake

Jillian Morris (“Shark Girl”) is a marine biologist, shark conservationist, professional videographer/photographer, educator, writer and is absolutely obsessed with sharks. She grew up on the water in Maine and has wrapped her life around the ocean. She is the founder and president of Sharks4Kids, a shark education nonprofit inspiring the next generation of shark advocates through education, outreach, and adventure.

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