Jan 1, 2014
07:05 AMArts & Entertainment
Sharks Get a Nicer Image, Myths Erased in New Connecticut Documentary
MADISON – There were those huge jagged teeth in a mouth big enough to swallow you whole.
There was blood in the water as those teeth seemed to jump off the screen, tearing at your fantasies. There was that driving beat to music so intense it made your heart race. And then there was the famous quote: “You need a bigger boat.”
That is the terrifying image millions of people share about sharks, fed and nurtured by Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws.”
But documentarian Scott Tucker is determined to shatter that image, which he insists bears no relation to reality. “Sharks are methodical marine cleansers; they clean the environment of the sick, dying and weak that inhabit the ocean,” he said. “They are not normally aggressive and have no interest in hunting human beings. It is only when we put ourselves in positions where we are accidentally struck, that so-called shark attacks take place.” (Above, Scott Tucker and his 7-year-old son Race with a sand shark caught in waters off of Madison.)
To prove his point, Tucker, who has often appeared on WTNH, Channel 8, has made his 101st documentary called “Feeding the Fear” which can be seen starting today on his website, www.expiditionnewengland.com and soon will be aired on access community television on the shoreline.
The 30-minute video was shot with a tiny, one- and a half- pound GoPro HD camera whose wide angle lens and sharp, clear images belies its size. It begins with a trip to Montauk, Long Island, and a shark competition in which $500,000 in prize money is divided among those who catch the biggest sharks in a variety of categories and bring them back alive. It ends with Tucker getting up close and personal with a large mako shark 10 to 20 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean.
In capturing the flavor of the competition, the video shows a huge blue shark weighing more than 200 pounds hanging from an overhead beam by its tail, its blood-stained mouth slightly open as admirers flock around, gaping.
Tucker, 50, a project manager for a North Haven construction company owned by his family, sees such competitions — and the huge demand for shark fins (which he said many people falsely believe act as aphrodisiacs), shark hunting adventures, shark flesh and the thrill of hunting these ever-hungry hunters of the deep – as a growing threat to the species.
“Feeding the Fear” takes a long look at last summer’s Montauk competition in which some winners earned as much as $50,000. One thresher shark caught and killed for the competition was too small to be eligible for any prize money. Others were simply thrown away after the two-day event ended.
“Many people are just not aware of the impact of what they are doing to the environment,” Tucker said last week. Sitting beside his wife, Eva, in their beautifully furnished former farmhouse on Mungertown Road that features an immense stone fireplace and many original but comfortable touches, he recounted how in 1989, he had chartered a boat from Frank Mandous, who ironically is the character author Peter Benchley turned into Quint, eaten alive by the monster shark in his epic book and movie “Jaws.”