For underwater photographer Craig Dietrich, diving is both a passion and a way to earn a living. Among his favorite subjects? Sharks—and lots of them.
After a morning dive on Dec. 17, the Jupiter resident posted close-up images of lemon sharks on his Facebook page. We caught up with him to learn more about what goes into capturing these photos.
The first step, of course, is getting near the creatures—ideally within two feet. Perhaps surprisingly, that in itself is not easy to accomplish, since the animals tend to be skittish, Dietrich explained.
“The hardest part of my job is trying to get the sharks to get close to me,” he said.
He compares the situation to spotting attractive women at a bar. Once you begin the approach, he said, they want nothing to do with you and bolt.
“I’m a nuisance; I actually scare [the sharks],” he said, pointing out how funny that is when you consider he’s only 5-foot-3 and the creatures can be up to 12 feet long.
But don’t get him wrong; the experience still gets the adrenaline pumping—especially for someone who, as he says, freaks when he spots a spider inside his house.
“It’s respect and fear at the same time,” Dietrich said. “The idea is that you actually realize [the sharks] are a lot smarter and more intelligent than you think.”
But capturing stunning snapshots of the sea creatures is only part of Dietrich’s overall goal.
The photographer hopes to change the way many people think about sharks. He wants to help them look beyond negative media coverage and educate them on how important sharks are to our ecosystem.
“Sharks are such a widely misunderstood subject matter, and people don’t realize we’re out there swimming with them on a regular basis,” Dietrich said.
He encourages shark-diving virgins to try the experience—especially right here in Jupiter, where you can spot hammerheads, tiger sharks, silky sharks and more in water that’s only about 70 to 80 feet deep.
Dietrich—who recently took his wife on a dive—says it’s normal to have jitters, but promises that after a few tries, excitement will eventually trump fear.
“By the third dive, you’re like, ‘Oh my god, this is incredible,” he said.
Look at the photos of lemon sharks below, and check out other works by Dietrich on his website:
Photos courtesy of Craig Dietrich