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  • Writer's pictureKirsten Woodforth

The Australian - 'Heart of the Nation' Article

This article published in The Australian - my Finalist image in the 'Our Impact' Category of the Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year 2014. This is a graphic image of a Shortfin Mako Shark, which gained large attention due to the current discussion and debate on shark culling. Creating discussion and encouraging positive thinking inspires my photography!

"WHAT a weird, unsettling photograph this is.You don’t quite know what you’re looking at. Has this large Mako Shark emerged from the depths to eyeball a terrified photographer in a dinghy out at sea? Is that blood in the water the aftermath of a fatal attack? It sends a shudder of primal fear down your spine.Actually, Kirsten Woodforth took this shot during a pleasant Sunday afternoon stroll with her two kids, aged 10 and 12. They were down by the waterfront near their home in Swansea, south of Newcastle, and a boat had just come in after a game-fishing tournament. Usually they target species such as marlin, mahi mahi and tuna, says Woodforth, but on this day they’d hooked something that put a rather bigger bend in the rod. The Shortfin Mako, which grows to about 4m, is built like a torpedo and has an unusual metabolism that makes it warm-blooded – attributes that make it one of the greatest sprinters in the ocean, capable of swimming at more than 70km/h in short bursts.The shark pictured, once landed and killed, was weighed and had samples taken from its body by a research scientist from the Department of Primary Industries. The head was then cut off. That’s what you’re looking at here: the decapitated head resting on the sand in shallow water next to the boat ramp. Woodforth, 40, makes a living as a real estate photographer, so this image – a finalist in the ANZANG Nature Photographer of the Year award – is out of the ordinary for her. She knows it’s graphic and confronting, and the killing of sharks is a sensitive subject, but she hopes it will provoke discussion rather than anger. And the animal’s life wasn’t wasted. Makos are good eating. In a fittingly weird postscript to the story, the shark’s meat was donated to a local bible college."

Ross Bilton

The Australian

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