MOSSEL BAY NEWS - Mossel Bay's marine celebrities - its white sharks - went viral after opening Shark Week on Discovery Channel this past weekend.
The documentary, Air Jaws, was shot in Mossel Bay in June with the help of the Oceans Research Institute and has been running on the Discovery Channel since 2001.
In Sunday premiere, Air Jaws: Ultimate Breach Off, shark experts compete to capture the best photos of sharks breaching near Seal Island, Mossel Bay.
Photographer Chris Fallows captured a record-breaking breach of almost four metres using a tow camera. Fallows refers to the image as "a photo you dream of" and not surprisingly, a video of the taking of the photo has gone viral since it was broadcast on Sunday, 9 August.
Dr Enrico Gennari, director of the Oceans Research Institute this week told the Mossel Bay Advertiser that the documentary had massive support worldwide. "We have seen articles from Forbes to Yahoo."
This week, the documentary showing Mossel Bay's sharks was broadcast on the 10-storey NYSE in Times Square, New York.
"Last year, Shark Week was ranked the top cable programme on US television. Last year nearly 27 million viewers tuned in and if growth trends continue, next year could draw more than 30 million in the US alone."
In July, Gennari commented in an article published by the Advertiser that the mission during filming was to truly show off the sharks of Mossel Bay. He expressed the hope that the feature, in light of Covid-19's damaging effect on the local economy, will ultimately lead tourists to Mossel Bay and boost business.
After the exposure since Sunday's programme, he believes that the name Mossel Bay now even more closely epitomises an ecotourism destination to people all around the world. "I believe this documentary is the biggest single tourism advertisement Mossel Bay has ever had."
According to Air Jaws: Ultimate Breach Off director Jeff Kurr, this Air Jaws, more than the ones before, has a particularly strong environmental message.
Gennari echoes this sentiment. "Very important is the worry that white sharks could disappear from Mossel Bay altogether, similar to how they have from False Bay and Gansbaai, as a result of the rampant non-managed coastal fisheries, in particular by the demersal shark longliners."
He says this kind of positive exposure for the town could disappear altogether if the white sharks disappear. "That's another reason why our battle to conserve sharks also concerns local government as well as all the people of Mossel Bay."
Shark week will be aired in SA from Monday, 17 August at 22:35.
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