Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Fiji Times: Shark Smitten

DAVID Diley loves sharks so much that he gave up his job as a recruitment consultant, became homeless and spent his money on travel to capture the feared fish on film.

The Leeds-based documentary maker said he was fascinated by sharks as a young boy growing up in England.

This passion led Mr Diley to Fiji to shoot at different locations on sharks and the traditional relationship they have with Fijians.

The isles have become his Mecca.

"It was a lifelong dream to make a documentary on sharks in Fiji and their relationship with Fijians and the spiritual side of their relationship," he said.

"I read an online article about 13 years ago, which was a small paragraph about sharks and the reef ecosystem of Fiji, and decided that I will go there and swim with sharks in Fiji one day and make a film."

He gave up everything and went around looking for potential producers for the film but no one wanted to give him money "because I was a stranger"..

"Then I contacted Tourism Fiji through Fiji Me, and they really liked my idea so they sponsored me to come to shoot in Fiji."

He has been in Fiji for more than four weeks, shooting scenes at Galoa Village near Deuba and at the Beqa Divers Shark Dive site.

Mr Diley said even though he had dived dozens of times with sharks, including the Oceanic white tip, responsible for the most attacks, he considers the Beqa Shark Dive his best.

"It's the best shark dive in the world because it includes eight different species of sharks."

These include the blacktip reef sharks, whitetip reef sharks, grey reef sharks, silvertip sharks, tawny nurse sharks, sicklefin lemon sharks, bull sharks and the occasional tiger shark.

"It's astonishing to see the level of understanding and respect the shark feeders and Beqa divers have for sharks."

He said he went to Galoa and Beqa to talk to villagers about the importance of sharks and to inform them of the dangers that foreigners posed to the ancient predators.

"Sharks here are threatened not by Fijians but by the destruction of reefs and their habitats by foreigners and illegal fishing vessels.

"Foreign fishing fleets are completely ignoring the qoliqoli and they come and kill sharks for their fins.

"Fijians should tell the foreigners that the sea is owned by the natives and the relationship between sharks and people is more important than fins.

"Individuals should educate themselves on the importance of sharks in our ecosystem."

Mr Diley said Fijians had knowledge of the balance of the ecosystem of the sea and the great imbalance that would be created if sharks disappeared.

"If you have a dead shark, you can only sell it once but if you have a live shark, you can sell it over a million times. A live shark is worth more to Fiji than a dead shark."

His mission is to tell the people of his country about the story of the shark and how much the people of Fiji are doing to protect its species.

"We must respect the sharks. Every person whom I have met in Fiji has told me that sharks must be protected."

He said he would not be here if there were no sharks in Fiji.

The film will be released early next year.

"Viewers will also want to come here to swim with sharks when they see this and many would like to come and see them in their dive sites."

He said he would incorporate a conservation message with the film to tell people to protect sharks and thank those who are trying to protect them.

"I am humbled to be here and experience the warmth and kindness of being here in Fiji.

"The people accepted me and allowed me to learn from them therefore Fiji and its sharks will always have a special place in my heart."

Published in the Fiji Times on Monday, August 8, 2011 Written by Arin Kumar.

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