Shark Week Kicks Off with Impressive Shark Breach Caught on Camera: 'The Photo You Dream Of'
Air Jaws: Ultimate Breach premiered on Sunday with a record-setting 15-foot leap caught on camera
Shark Week is here — and the 2020 programming slate kicked off with some impressive fish-out-of-water moments.
On Sunday, Discovery premiered Air Jaws: Ultimate Breach, in which experts compete to capture the best mid-air snapshots of sharks breaching the surface of the water.
According to Yahoo! Entertainment, the participants employed different methods, including drone photography, to capture the feats on camera near the shoreline of Seal Island, South Africa.
Chris Fallows, the outlet reported, was able to document a record-breaking breach for Shark Week with a "photo you dream of" recording a 15-foot shark leap. "They say a picture is worth a thousand words," he said. "Well, that picture is worth a thousand breaches."
Judge Dickie Chivell named Fallows the winner of the 2020 Air Jaws endeavor, with the official Shark Week Twitter account sharing a breath-taking photograph of a large shark upside down in mid-air caught just before the predator came splashing back down into the water.
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Air Jaws has been a staple of Shark Week since 2001, and director Jeff Kurr told TV Insider that Fallows' "unbelievable breaches" from this installment are "probably the best he's ever filmed." The filmmaker also said conservation was at the forefront of the documentary team's mind this time around.
"More than any other Air Jaws we've done, this one has a really strong conservation message: We have to do something to protect these great white sharks because they are on the brink of annihilation," said Kurr. "Does Air Jaws have a chance of making a comeback?"
Kurr also told the outlet about Air Jaws' scientific contributions to the study of great white shark behavior.
"The thing with Air Jaws is that we have filmed these white sharks unlike anyone has before, in so many different angles, in super slow motion," he said. "Number one is just showing the detail of how they hunt, the strategies that they use, how they approach their prey, what time of day they like to attack."
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"We did an Air Jaws at night a few years ago, Air Jaws: Night Stalker, in which we figured out that certain moon phases affect when white sharks will hunt, and that certain battles between seals and white sharks are like a chess match," he continued. "The seals would leave at 3 in the morning, and the sharks would adapt by also becoming active at 3 in the morning."
Kurr said many scientists "do not have the privilege of being out there on the water and having these great cameras," making their efforts valuable to researchers. He said, "Just by having all of these sharks on film and doing all of these incredible things, you can learn a lot more about them."