AN incredible close up photo of a menacing great white shark stalking its prey has been snapped by a veteran diver.
It is one of many beautiful pictures captured by 78-year-old Mike Bolton, who has spent more than sixty years swimming with the predators.
The powerful image of the great white captures it in motion, swimming head-on towards Bolton’s camera, through a shoal of fish.
Other shots feature the photographer stroking, and even high-fiving a variety of sharks.
Bolton lives in Panama with his wife of 45 years, Becky. The keen diver is originally from the US.
He has previously acknowledged the risks, yet said diving with sharks was his “life”.
“I can’t think of any other work or pleasure I would love to do more,” he said.
When on the job, he would focus on what he was doing and stay aware of anything that could go wrong.
“Even then there are just so many things a shark diver is not prepared for that can happen,” he admitted.
Part of what drove Bolton to continue jumping into shark-filled water with his camera, was his drive to push shark conservation, and educate people about shark awareness and behaviour.
TIME RUNNING OUT
The pensioner, who has spent over six decades swimming with sharks, is urging the world to protect this often misunderstood animal – as scientists say ‘time is running out’.
The call for action comes as the news emerges that the global shark population in open oceans had dropped by 71% over half a century.
Researchers believed the huge drop in numbers could largely be attributed to an increase in fishing.
The news was “not surprising” to Mike, who said the practise of “finning” – when humans hunted sharks purely for their fins, was a large part of the problem.
“People talk of shark conservation and protecting sharks but the fin industry business continues and is considered second only to the drug business.
“It’s very hard to control on a global scale, because there is just too much money and corruption.
“On the other hand, there are also countries who still allow finning, which is a very serious problem.
Finning involved fisherman slicing off the fin from the often still living shark, before tossing the animal back into the ocean.
The fin was often used in highly-lucrative soups, or other dishes.
Sometimes they were simply seen as a status symbol.
Fishermen will slice off the fin from the often still living sharks, before tossing the animals back into the ocean – with the fin then used in soups and other dishes, or simply seen as a status symbol.
Bolton believed laws required urgent change in several countries but more importantly, these must be enforced.
“We also need to educate the public so that they understand the importance of sharks in our oceans and tell their government to protect this endangered species.
The shark enthusiast acknowledged he was not a marine biologist or scientist, but rather someone who loved the ocean and the animals in it.
Bolton told Jam Press one of his favourite experiences from his many years of diving was with a great white juvenile female shark.
“I had the opportunity to name her and did so after my nine-year-old granddaughter, Mikaela Victoria,” he recalled.
“Two years after meeting this shark, I was diving at Guadalupe island and I saw her again – and she looked at me like she knew me.
“I was diving outside the cage but later got in the cage by myself and lowered down at 15 metres.
Bolton said Mikaela swam right up to him and put her nose against the bars,
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“I just rubbed her head very lightly and her eyes rolled back,” Bolton said.
“Then she backed out and swam off.
“This was a tremendous experience that really touched my heart.”
Mike Bolton’s prints are available to purchase here.