Orlando Weekly Review

Film Review: Sharkwater

Within the first 15 minutes of this eye-opening documentary, photographer/biologist Rob Stewart stands on the ocean floor in his scuba gear and strokes a 6-foot-long or so shark, which, amazingly, responds like a purring housecat. The film continues not only to dispel Jaws-propagated shark myths, but also to expose a mafia-driven poaching industry that has depleted about 90 percent of the world’s shark population with nary a national headline. Scenes of poachers slicing off sharks’ fins and tails, then tossing the bleeding bodies overboard to sink and die strike an emotional chord. The fins are sold for top dollar in Asia to be cooked in expensive shark-fin soups or ground into alleged “cancer-fighting” pills. In contrast, the film’s underwater footage — including shots of exotic, colorful ocean life like schooling hammerheads backlit by the sunlit surface — is absolutely beautiful; original compositions by Jeff Rona and tracks by Moby, Nina Simone, Portishead and Aphex Twin complement it. The high point, however, of this entertaining documentary is Stewart’s stop-at-nothing passion to save the sharks, especially when he hooks up with renegade conservationist Paul Watson to track down poachers off the coast of Costa Rica. The film is definitely worth seeing – particularly on a big screen.