By Kerry Mcqueeney
Too close for comfort: Stefanie Brendle swims just inches away from at tiger shark Oahu in Haleiwa, Hawaii. The 5ft 7in diver films the ten foot beast from an incredibly short distance
She swims just inches away from some of the planet's deadliest predators, but Stefanie Brendl shows no fear.
While most would do all they could to avoid an encounter of this kind, 5ft 7in Stefanie can't get close enough to the ten foot beast, filming the action on a video camera just inches away.
Without a shark cage - and wearing only snorkelling equipment - Stefanie is at her most vulnerable. But the sharks don't appear to notice a thing.
Stefanie, 46, from Germany, leaves her protective diving cage for hours at a time in order to free-dive with a group of tiger sharks three miles off the north shore of Oahu, Hawaii.
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Dicing with death: Stefanie left her protective diving cage for hours at a time in order to free-dive with a group of tiger sharks
Shark tale: Swimming just inches from one of nature's most dangerous animals, Stefanie Brendl says a calm demeanor is best way to keep the animals composed
Close encounter: Stefanie runs a shark diving tour company in Hawaii. She built up the business with her late partner, extreme sports enthusiast Jimmy Hall, who was killed in a base-jumping accident in 2007
She said: 'I wouldn't recommend going in the water with tiger sharks if it makes you nervous.
'A calm demeanor is the best way to keep the animals calm as well.'
Stefanie spent several hours in the waters of the Pacific Ocean, sometimes swimming down 50 feet deep to get closer to the tiger sharks.
She added: 'It was definitely an intense experience to keep track of the sharks out in the open blue, as well as above and below us.
'I was often completely surrounded by blue water and sharks, but being close to them leaves an impression that I will never forget.'
Stefanie runs a shark diving tour company in Hawaii. She built up the business with her late partner, extreme sports enthusiast Jimmy Hall, who died in a base-jumping accident in 2007.
She has since founded Shark Allies, a charity which lobbies for shark protection legislation and has been a key figure in getting shark finning bans adopted in Hawaii, Micronesia, and several U.S. states.
Fish friend: The shark lover wants to challenge the misconceptions people have about the oceanic predators
Stefanie thinks it is important to show a different side to create appreciation for the animals and to end paranoia about sharks and shark attacks
Predators: Using snorkel equipment, Stefanie spent several hours in the waters of the Pacific Ocean, sometimes swimming down 50 feet
The shark lover wants to change the misconceptions people have about the animals.
She said: 'We want to show people that sharks are beautiful and fascinating and that they are not mindless killers.
'It is important to show a different side to create appreciation for the animals and to end paranoia about sharks and shark attacks.
Hawaiian photographer Doug Perrine, who shot the images said: 'I have never heard of anyone being attacked by a tiger shark that they could see.
'It is the one you don't see that gets you, and very often it's likely a case of the shark not seeing its victim clearly either.
'Most tiger shark attacks in Hawaii are on surfers in dim light and murky water that is churned into a mass of bubbles by the surf.
'Some people think Stef is crazy when they see these pictures, but I know she isn't.'
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Thursday, May 17, 2012
Swimming with sharks: The diver dicing with death as she films some of the planet's deadliest predators without a safety cage
By Kerry Mcqueeney