Adjusting to an 'invisible' shark cage wall

By John Lewis

Shark Dive New Zealand director Peter Scott with his new single-man Perspex shark cage. Photo / Otago Daily Times
Shark Dive New Zealand director Peter Scott with his new single-man Perspex shark cage. Photo / Otago Daily Times

The creator of a new Perspex shark cage has been left feeling a little jittery following the first of several sea trials to be carried out near Stewart Island this week.

Shark Dive New Zealand director Peter Scott has built a new shark cage with a large bullet-proof Perspex wall which is to be used to film a Discovery Channel documentary about sharks.

Mr Scott said the single-man cage had been built with a metal frame on three walls, and the fourth wall was made of clear bullet-proof Perspex to allow the film crew to shoot unimpeded footage of sharks swimming past the presenter.

Mr Scott said he was the first to try the new cage during sea trials in Foveaux Strait yesterday, and given that most shark cages usually had four metal walls, the experience was quite unnerving.

"I've done over 1000 shark dives, and for it to look like there's nothing between you and the shark is a pretty uneasy feeling.

"It's something you have to get used to."

Although the sharks could not see the Perspex wall, Mr Scott said surprisingly they did not try to poke their noses into what looked like an open cage because humans were not their natural food.

The cage was built at Careys Bay Slipways, near Port Chalmers, with the help of owner and engineer Richard Taylor. It cost about $4000 to construct.

Mr Scott said it was not the first time Shark Dive New Zealand had provided a cage for film shoots.

Three years ago, he helped with a 3D film about Great White sharks for Yes/No Productions.

Mr Scott said he was looking forward to working alongside the Discovery Channel's "legendary natural history filmmaker" Jeff Kurr for the upcoming film shoot.

Mr Kurr has made 30 shark-related documentaries, and his Tales of The Tiger Shark (1996), Air Jaws: Sharks of South Africa (2001), Ultimate Air Jaws (2010), Great White Invasion (2011), and Shark Attack Files (1995) have made the top 10 highest rated episodes for the Discovery Channel's annual Shark Week television series.

"It's all exciting to be dealing with big names in the wildlife film industry again," he said.

Mr Scott said the trials were going well, with just a few minor modifications needed, and the cage would be ready for the start of filming on April 17.

It was hoped the documentary would be screened as part of Shark Week later this year.

- Otago Daily Times

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