This documentary film stars the passionate marine activist, Rob Stewart, who also wrote and directed it. Stewart’s goal is clear – he wants to rid the world of the common myth that the shark is a barbaric predator that should be eliminated. Istead, he wants to spread the message that sharks are fundamental to the world’s ecosystem and should be revered and protected. The film focuses on the shark world and the creature’s increasing risk of extinction because of inhumane, and often unregulated, practices such as shark finning, long-line fishing and shark hunting.
Stewart tells the story through his own experiences during a trip to Cocos Island and the Galapagos Islands where he aimed to film underwater footage of sharks. On his way to Costa Rica, however, his crew run into unexpected dramas that see them involved in boat chases, machine gun pursuits, murder charges, life and death illness, and the Costa Rican underworld.
Cruelty to animals; endangered species
There is significant violence (particularly towards animals) in this movie. For example:
- There are multiple scenes of dead sharks piled up in baskets and in nets, with blood coming out of their mouths.
- Children play in a pile of dead sharks.
- Many scenes show injured and struggling sharks. Sharks are caught in a long line. Sharks are dragged onto ships. There is a scene in which a shark’s head is half cut off and the shark then attempts to swim away. There is also a scene of a shark with its fins missing, still alive but unable to swim.
- Numerous scenes show shark fin traffickers cutting off the fins of sharks while they are still alive, and then throwing the sharks back into the water.
- A man clubs a seal to death. Blood is seen on the snow.
- A turtle is smashed and has its eyes poked out while it is still alive.
- The ship The Ocean Warrior is chased by Costa Rican coastguards holding machine guns.
- The movie includes footage from the film Jaws where a woman is taken by a shark.
- There is footage of sharks portrayed as monsters.
Content that may disturb children
Children in this age group are likely to be disturbed by the graphic scenes and cruelty to animals described above.
Children in this age group are more likely to understand what is occurring, so could be more disturbed than younger viewers. They could also be disturbed by the turn of events in which marine activist Rob Stewart contracts a skin-eating bacteria, is hospitalised and told that that he might lose his leg.
Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by some of the scenes described above.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
This movie contains scenes of smoking.
Nudity and sexual activity
This movie contains infrequent mild coarse language.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Sharkwater is successful in its campaign to shock and educate. It uses graphic and disturbing footage, spectacular underwater cinematography, and powerful facts to educate us on the plight of the shark. It is likely that all who see this film will come away with a changed perspective and a new-found love of the shark, an animal that has lived as an integral part of ocean life for over 450 million years. Unfortunately, the shark is predicted to be wiped out within 10 years if practices remain unchanged.
Some of the things you might like to talk about with your children are the values of respect for nature and the world’s ecosystem, and standing up for what you believe. You could also discuss your family values on other issues such as:
- cruelty to animals
- organised crime and corruption
- how one person can make a difference (for example, by educating yourself and others, protesting and more aggressive methods).