Jillian Morris was free-diving in a shiver of sharks near her home in Bimini when she had a yin and yang moment. The experience was breathless; the photo is now timeless. “Two species of shark,” Morris said, “coexisting in a beautiful ballet.”
“This is one of my favorite images because it is unique,” said Morris, a marine biologist and electronic media specialist.
Morris, who interned in the early 2000s at Mote Marine Lab, is a leading shark advocate. Her photography and videography skills are in demand by multiple television networks. Last year she appeared in a “Shark Week” episode on Discovery Channel that was partly filmed by her husband, Duncan Brake, an Emmy-nominated cinematographer.
“I could have never created this shot, but free diving allowed me to get just above the sharks, quietly and peacefully, to get the image,” Morris said in an email. “We are so lucky to have these incredible creatures in our backyard and I get to spend a lot of time with them each year.”
» For more about Jillian Morris, read The Daily Fray’s 5=Q&A.
Morris, also an educator, said she travels 3-5 months a year on shark business. She has branched into a nautical fashion line that is also a platform for her underwater photos — a highlight of her Twitter posts for more than 6,000 followers worldwide.
“I had my first underwater photography experience while working on a research support vessel,” Morris said. “There is something truly remarkable about telling a story with the capture of a single moment. I realized my images were allowing me to share this incredible world with others.”
Although arguably the goofiest-looking shark around, for Morris, the hammerhead is her favorite.
“There is something absolutely mesmerizing about being in the water with them. It really doesn't compare to anything else I've ever dived with,” she said. "Sharks are wild animals and deserve our respect, but they are not mindless killing machines. They are intelligent, can be highly social, and are a vital part of healthy reefs and healthy oceans."
» Photos courtesy Jillian Morris (top); via Matthew Addison Photography
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» "PLAYING WITH SHARKS," which recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, documents diving legend Valerie Taylor.