Sharks are nothing if not magnificent. But would you swim alongside them for a closer look?
National Geographic photographer Brian Skerry dives in predator-infested waters so you don’t have to. And although his photos of sharks might not make you want to hop in, they just may change the way you see these imposing — and threatened — creatures.
Dozens of Skerry’s shark photographs are part of “Sharks: On Assignment With Brian Skerry” at the National Geographic Museum. The photographer’s daring is part of the display, along with the armorlike diving suits and cages he uses to protect himself underwater. But the sharks — brought to life through models, first-person testimonies and Skerry’s large-format photos — are the real attraction.
The photos show the fish in vivid detail, highlighting their silky skin and the occasional fearsome set of teeth. Blue lighting and oceanic surroundings make the photos even more realistic.
Look elsewhere for shark stereotypes. Skerry’s subjects are more charming than scary, and they’re more endangered than dangerous. If anything, the exhibition’s fear factor lies in the information that accompanies the award-winning photos. Videos and interactive displays illustrate how human activity threatens sharks: Millions of them are killed for their fins, while hooks, nets and habitat threats disfigure and displace others.
Humans, it turns out, may be even scarier than sharks. No wonder Skerry has spent more than 10,000 hours underwater. If immersing yourself in his shark-centered world leaves you wanting more, check out some of the events that accompany the exhibition, including a “happy hour” conversation on Thursday with marine conservationist Jess Cramp and oceanographer Camrin Braun. The exhibit runs through Oct. 15.