SHARKS. When most people think of being in the water with them, they react with fear. But, if you talk to scuba divers who make a point of seeking them out, they'll react with such words as "graceful, compelling" and even "beautiful."
Ty Sawyer, long time diver and editorial director for Sport Diver Magazine, encountered his first shark at 15. In the 32 years since, his passion for diving with sharks has not waned.
"Given any opportunity, I will jump in the water with sharks," says Sawyer.
"It is absolutely thrilling to see this well-honed ancient predator in the water doing its thing. When you see them in action the water becomes electrified and it is hard to take your eyes off of them."
As with many terrestrial apex predators like tigers and lions, sharks have an inaccurate, bad reputation. The more we learn about sharks, the more we learn it's not we who should fear them, but they who should fear us.
What sharks need is our understanding, not our fear. This goes beyond understanding their behavior, but also their value. There is no better way to gain that understanding than by seeing them in their own habitat. You can only do that by diving. Many who dive with sharks, like veteran diver and underwater photographer Budd Riker, discover that they are graceful and powerful animals, more curious than ferocious.
Image by Christy Fisher