SEI's Board Member Ila France Porcher (IFP) interview:

SEI: When did you start to focus on painting sharks?

IFP: As I had always been a wildlife artist, I first started trying to help sharks by painting them to show their beauty, but soon switched to writing because, faced with the shark finning crisis, it was obvious that painting was not going to be enough. I did a lot of illustrations for my books too. 

SEI: Which of your paintings would you emphasize the most? 

IFP: I try to select a variety of sharks to paint, not only those that are most dramatic for divers, such as the tigers, but those considered less interesting. For example, the nurse shark portrait shows one who started following me around like my pet chicken. It was a big one, a good three metres and heavy set. He quite freaked me out, actually, because I did not know why he would follow me around so relentlessly and still do not! 

SEI: One of the illustrations is named "The unfathomable face of the nurse shark"... 
IFP: Yes, he is described in my book, The True Nature of Sharks, in the section on nurse sharks. As it is a less documented species, at least in the fine arts, I thought people might like the opportunity of seeing a painting of a nurse shark's face. 

SEI: Could you name a favorite painting if you have one?

IFP: The one called Madonna--she was my number one shark and she was finned. This was the portrait that I did of her to introduce her in The Shark Sessions, and she is the one with me on the cover of that book, where I'm swimming on my back and she is swimming above me, her nose nearly touching mine. That was how we were together, and when she was finned, I wrote an “Ode to Madonna” for her. One reads all the time about how millions of sharks are being finned, and it is hard to take in, the numbers of them. But when it happens to a shark you love, you reel.

 

SEI: Again, thank you so much, Ila, for being within the SEI and for sharing a part of your art with all sharks' fans!

IFP: I am very pleased to have been invited to join your international team. Thank you!

 

Ila France Porcher, SEI's Shark Behaviour Specialist Adviser, and Author of 'The True Nature of Sharks' & 'The Shark Sessions'. 

 

"Whenever a shark dies, somewhere in the world, the sand advances" – Ila France Porcher.

This year's Digital Online organised by the Emirates Diving Association was once again a great event to the marine conservation awareness.

As a Photography and Film Competition that encourages the protection and highlights the importance of the beautiful marine life and underwater environment in the Arabian Sea Region, we couldn't be more satisfied when we become aware that one of our Shark Divers' Adviser won the Black & White Compact Category.
After hearing that, we resolved to ask Christopher Bridge (CB) a few questions:
SEI – What were your feelings when you took the picture?
CB – When I captured this photograph of the batfish, the very first thing that struck me was the way that all the fish were acting in exactly the same manner, but more than simply being part of a shoal. It at first looked as if the current was pressing on the huge oval shape of the bodies and forcing them into this position, but I do not believe this to be the case. It was almost as if they were imitating the symmetry of the small wreck which was was heeling as it lay.
It is amazing to think that one of the fish we see very often around our house reefs (and almost take for granted) is capable of enacting a behaviour, at just the right time to warrant a prize winning photo.
SEI – Where did you took this picture and how were the diving conditions that day?
CB – This dive was on a site named "Artificial Reef" which is a small reef made up of concrete triangles usually used for building breakwaters. The site is teaming with life, mainly fish, but the benthic life forms are slowly starting to make a name for themselves.
The small wreck you see in the photo is a marker on the way to the reef from the descent point but rarely does it capture the attention of the diver for more than 10-15 minutes, which this time it did.
SEI – How did you felt when you became aware you were a winner with this photo?
CB – When I heard the news that I had won the "Black and white - Compact" category I was overjoyed, and partly shocked that after entering photos taken upon my much more expensive camera system, my GoPro was the tool which produced the winner.
It just goes to show that sometimes it is worth keeping an eye on those more "common" sightings as they may catch you by surprise, rather than spending hours searching for a rarer subject.

Again congratulations Chris, and thank you also for all your great photos that teach us extremely well to become aware of our responsibilities with ocean's conservation.

The DIGITAL ONLINE is a Photography and Film Competition organised annually by the Emirates Diving Association that encourages the protection and highlights the importance of the beautiful marine life and underwater environment in the Arabian Sea Region.
This year 2018, we have the pleasure to inform that one of our certified Shark Divers, Sibylle Blumenthal, has been announced as the the Overall Compact Winner, with her 1st Prize on the category of Compact cameras.

After the results were reported, we spoke with Sibylle Blumenthal (SB) and asked her:
SEI – What were your feelings when you took the picture?
SB – I was laying in the sand next to the flathead and was amazed that it didn't move when I was so close!
SEI – How was the diving conditions that day?
SB – Actually pretty good visibility that day, no current.
SEI – How did you felt when you became aware you were a winner with this photo?
SB – I was super excited and felt very honoured that they chose my picture!

Congratulations Sibylle, and thank you for taking time to speak with us. Thank you also for your photos. With them, we believe you make a lot for the marine environment conservation.

Painting exhibition 'Ocean, dreams and nightmares'
Vecindario, Canary Islands, April, 2017
At 'Tasca Rafia' Vecindario, Canary Islands, Spain