A YOUNG Aussie marine biologist is combating the fearsome reputation of sharks in a new home-grown TV series.
Gold Coast researcher and diver Sarah Richmond hosts the new six-part nature travel show Sarah Shark, created, filmed and produced locally in Australia.
It premieres today on GEM at 2pm.
More than two years in the making, the independent production mixes travel, natural history and conservation as Sarah Richmond takes viewers across Australia to destinations where she gets up close and personal with sharks.
"The purpose behind these films is to engage with the Australian public about the sharks they share the waters with, and to really find out about how sharks, and their natural history, fit within modern Australian culture," Richmond said.
From the clear blue waters of the Great Barrier Reef, to South Australia's Neptune Islands and the remote coral reefs of Christmas Island, the series shows the variety of shark encounters Australia has to offer.
In each episode, Richmond Sarah talks to members of the public about their thoughts on what they think about sharks and issues like Queensland's shark nets and shark finning.
With recent shark attack incidents in Western Australia and further down near Coffs Harbour, the show's premiere is a timely call for a more balanced discussion of sharks and how Aussies can better understand the animals.
"Sharks, when viewed in their purest form, really are a force of nature; the most amazing of creatures," director Kieren Curry said.
"With our films, we try to harness that nature and reintroduce sharks back to the Australian public without all the media glare and hype."
"What I found most fascinating, is that when we engaged the public about sharks there was much more awareness and acceptance than I had anticipated. This made for an interesting dynamic, and the films became as much about the Australian people as they were about Australia's sharks."
The series also delves into the issue of sharks as food, exploring the public perception of flake and some alarming mercury testing results of shark meat bought at Gold Coast seafood shops.
Today's first episode features Richmond diving with wobbegong sharks at Julian Rocks, a popular dive site off the coast of Byron Bay.
"Wobbies are great sharks to dive with as they're different from what you would perceive a shark to be," Richmond said.
"People often think they're quite boring but when you see them move, or hunt, they're incredible."
Richmond said Julian Rocks is one of her favourite dive sites in Australia.
"Julian Rocks manages to show me something new every time I dive there."
The show continues on Monday and Tuesday at 2pm on GEM.
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