It’s been said sharks are perfectly suited for a life in the water, and the same may be true for British Olympic diver Tom Daley who has transformed himself into a shark ahead of Shark Week in the UK (2 – 8 August).
Daley hopes that taking part in this project will challenge misconceptions surrounding the ocean’s top predator and highlight the vital role they play in the health of the ecosystem, as well as the importance of ocean conservation as a whole.
The athlete teamed up with SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment to create a striking piece of body art of a shark along the full length of his body. It took four hours for two body art specialists to complete the transformation. Daley’s five-foot-nine frame was covered from head to toe in a water-based paint, with the design created by British body painting artist, Emma Fay.
A video of the transformation can be seen on Tom’s YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63I_tE4-2is
“I’ve always been really fascinated by sharks,” said the Olympic diver. “They’re incredible marine animals, but not always in the news for the right reasons. Despite high profile news stories, the percentage of people hurt by sharks is very low, relative to the millions of people who swim and spend time in the ocean.”
“Sharks play a vital role to the health of the ocean,” he continued. “They keep fish populations balanced and protect habitats. Without sharks, the health of the ocean ecosystem would completely change.”
Sharks’ greatest threats come from humans. Millions of sharks are killed each year for their fins and as commercial fishing bycatch. Ocean pollution and a decrease in food supply also are threatening many species of sharks.
“We need sharks,” said Mike Price, assistant curator of fishes at SeaWorld. “The more you know about any species, the more you will want to protect it. Meeting sharks up close at SeaWorld or a local aquarium can be the perfect way for even young children to get up close and connect with these amazing predators. We want visitors to learn to respect and appreciate sharks, not fear them.”
At Discovery Cove, guests can walk alongside large species of shark including zebra, nurse and blacktip and whitetip reef sharks – some more than 5 feet long – as part of the SeaVenture underwater tour. SeaWorld boasts some of the world’s largest underwater viewing tunnels at its Shark Encounter attractions. Guests can even get hands on by booking a Behind the Scenes tour where they get to touch a small shark. Next summer, the world's fastest shark is the inspiration for a new roller coaster opening at SeaWorld Orlando called “Mako.”
Behind-the-scenes tours and other up close park encounters are available through the SeaWorld Parks Extras program. For every purchase by UK customers, $2 is donated to the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund. The Fun2Fund donation programme means that additional money is available for UK-based charities that help wildlife conservation projects both at home and overseas.
For more information about the Fun2Fund programme visit www.seaworldparksfun2fund.com.
For more information about SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment and its commitment to conservation, visit www.seaworldcares.com.