Local News

Underwater Photographer Describes Power, Beauty Of Sharks

Posted September 3, 2001

— While most of us hope we never meet face-to-face with a shark, a Fayetteville man makes his living that way. He's an underwater videographer whose work has appeared worldwide.

Rick Allen just got back from a scuba diving trip. On Saturday, he has headed out on another. The Fayetteville photographer is headed to South Africa to shoot video of the granddaddy of all sharks -- the great white.

"When you see the muscle, sleekness they have, that's the most exciting thing," he says.

The 38-year-old considers himself part of an elite group of "shark-shooters." Allen also owns a video company called Nautilus Productions, and has done shark assignments all over the world.

When diving, Allen wears no more gear than your average sport diver. The only thing between him and the shark is his underwater camera, but he is experienced enough to know when he's getting on their nerves.

"They'll take their pectoral fins and move them from a horizontal to a vertical position," he says. "Their movements become much more jerky. They make fast passes at you. They're saying, 'Get out of my space, give me some room here.'"

He says he is not afraid of them, but because they are unpredictable, Allen says the potential fear factor is always there. Despite how dangereous they are, he believes the boy who was attacked in Pensacola was not the real target. Jesse Arbogast was in shallow, murky water where it was hard for the shark to see.

"Sharks don't have hands, so the only way they have to test if it's food is to take a bite out of it," he says. "The only thing about taking a bite out of humans is, it is catastrophic."

Allen says the bull shark, which is the kind that attacked Jessie Arbogast, is one of the more aggressive kinds of sharks. He rates their dangerousness just a few notches below the Great White.


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