- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Try not to hear the “Jaws” theme. Granted, it remains arguably the best thriller movie of all time, but it’s also arguable that Steven Spielberg’s 1975 masterpiece gave sharks a bit of an image problem they’re still trying to recover from.

Thankfully, photographer Brian Skerry has been working for decades to do just that, taking his camera into the sharks’ domain to show that they are far from the mindless, evil killers portrayed in the increasingly terrible “Jaws” sequels and all of their even lesser spawn (“Sharknado” franchise, I’m looking in your direction).

The exhibit “Sharks,” at the District’s National Geographic Museum through Oct. 1, offers a panoply of Mr. Skerry’s incredible photos and even underwater video of these most magnificent creatures, who predate even the dinosaurs and have changed little since those prehistoric times. Engineering has indeed made them efficient hunters, with sleek bodies designed to cut through water and little teethlike dermal bumps called denticles on their skin that help water to more easily pass over their bodies as they swim.

Mr. Skerry’s lens travels the globe to all continents and oceans to observe these magnificent creatures in their environment up close and personal. In addition to haunting images of the sharks gliding through the water — and some of Mr. Skerry and other divers right next to them — the photographer’s eye also shines a horrifying light on industrial nets that inadvertently also catch sharks, who become entangled and drown.

Even worse, sharks are routinely caught and harvested solely for their fins for the rampant appetite of the Asian delicacy market — with the animals then tossed back into the sea still alive, sinking to the bottom and dying.

(According to National Geographic, 100 million sharks are killed annually. Compare that to the six — yes, six — people killed worldwide each year by sharks.)

A new book of Mr. Skerry’s incredible photographs, called “Shark,” is out as well from National Geographic.

The exhibit is open at the National Geographic Museum in Northwest through Oct. 1. Tickets are available at NationalGeographic.org.

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