Assignment #5 was to produce a 5 picture story about a topic of my choice. I decided to go out and document the shark net teams, who protect he coastline of Durban, South Africa on a daily basis.
The KwaZulu Natal Sharks Board, situated in Umhlanga Rocks, Durban, South Africa, was founded in 1964 to protect beach users from shark attacks. Protection is provided by an extensive network of nets.
The daily task of maintaining the nets belongs to the team led by Dillon Fletcher, who manages three boats responsible for ensuring the nets are in working order.
The teams leave the base before dawn and head out to check each net to ensure it is still correctly in position, doesn’t have any marine life trapped in the nets, and to swap out nets on a daily basis, for repairs and inspection.
These nets are 305 meters long and 6 meters deep and have anchors at both ends. They are positioned 400 meters offshore and there are 17 nets along the Durban coastline.
Working on the boats is physically demanding. Durban’s coastline has a strong current, often resulting in high waves and varying conditions. The crew perform their tasks of cleaning, inspecting and replacing the nets on a daily basis, without most Durban residents aware they are even there.
This particular documentary was one of the hardest I’ve had to shoot. The space onboard the small boat is non-existent and the swell from the notorious Durban ocean makes keeping on your feet, or in my case knees, bloody hard work.
Times like this I’d love a fully automated Nikon D3, just point and shoot and pray it captured the frame. I did walk away with a lovely bruised eye, when the hasselblad smacked me in the face during a particular rough wave.