New shark exhibit aims to make over the predator’s image

In his exhibit, photographer Brian Skerry wants to change visitors' perceptions of sharks as thoughtless predators, to vulnerable animals essential to the eco-system. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
In his National Geographic Museum exhibit, photographer Brian Skerry aims to change visitors’ perception of sharks as thoughtless predators. Rather,  he portrays them as vulnerable animals essential to the ecosystem. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Skerry's photo of a dead shark caught in a net has garnered international acclaim for exposing the reality of the threat fishing poses to the species. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Photographer Brian Skerry’s shot of a dead shark caught in a net has garnered international acclaim for exposing the reality of the threat fishing poses to the species. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Enrico Amaro, 15, and his mother Shirley Amaro visit the exhibit from Tyler, Texas. They stand in a cage similar to the one the photographer uses to submerge into shark-infested waters. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Enrico Amaro, 15, and mother Shirley Amaro, both of Tyler, Texas, visit the exhibit. They stand in a cage similar to the one the photographer uses to submerge into shark-infested waters. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
On display in the exhibit, a specially designed camera made to look like the body of a seal which Brian Skerry used to lure a Great White Shark to the camera off Cape Cod, Massachusetts. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
On display in the exhibit, a specially designed camera made to look like the body of a seal which Brian Skerry used to lure a Great White Shark to the camera off Cape Cod, Massachusetts. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
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In his exhibit, photographer Brian Skerry wants to change visitors' perceptions of sharks as thoughtless predators, to vulnerable animals essential to the eco-system. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Skerry's photo of a dead shark caught in a net has garnered international acclaim for exposing the reality of the threat fishing poses to the species. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Enrico Amaro, 15, and his mother Shirley Amaro visit the exhibit from Tyler, Texas. They stand in a cage similar to the one the photographer uses to submerge into shark-infested waters. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
On display in the exhibit, a specially designed camera made to look like the body of a seal which Brian Skerry used to lure a Great White Shark to the camera off Cape Cod, Massachusetts. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)

WASHINGTON — A new shark exhibit at the National Geographic Museum aims to portray a different side of the ocean’s top predator.

A photographer with National Geographic Magazine for 19 years, Brian Skerry has spent his career underwater, swimming with sharks since he was a teenager.

“I was captivated by those animals as a photo subject because they are perfectly sculpted. They’re grace and power all in one,” he said. “But as the years went on, it was more than that.  I saw them as vulnerable, as fragile creatures that really needed our help.”

Some of the ever-demonized species face extinction, with an estimated 100 million sharks killed every year. Skerry hopes his photographs — which feature dozens of the 400 different types of sharks in seas across the world — will have visitors reconsidering the animal’s reputation.

“They’re not house pets, but they’re not villains either. They are somewhere in between. And in the way that we love wolves and grizzly bears and lions and tigers, we can celebrate sharks in the same way,” Skerry said.

November 29, 2019 | (Megan Cloherty)

The National Geographic Museum exhibit “Sharks: On Assignment with Brian Skerry” is open and runs through mid-October.


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