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A seaside vow

Watching a whale shark die before my eyes on the coast of Gujarat proved to be a major turning point in my life. The episode pushed me to making the documentary, Shores of Silence: Whale Sharks in India, which won the Green Oscar award in 2000.

In 1985, when my brother and I were filming on the coast of Gujarat we came across a shark dying on the beach. The 25-feet long creature was bleeding profusely as its stomach had been cut open by a fisherman who had butchered it to extract its liver and then left it to die.

The shark looked at us as if pleading for help and continued to stare at us till it breathed its last. We were helpless even though we did try our best to drag it back into the sea. But that was impossible to accomplish as the shark weighed a couple of hundred tons and there was no one around to help.

At that moment I made a vow to do all that I could to save these creatures. What followed this episode were a series of documentary films on wildlife protection. In the early 1990s, I made a film on the lions of Gir as well as some films for the ministry of ocean development.

In 2001, within three months of the release of Shores of Silence: Whale Sharks in India, the whale shark was included in the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. This was the first time that a marine creature has been protected under the Wildlife Protection Act.

(As told to Hoihnu Hauzel)

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