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Local vet films Tiger sharks up close for a TV pilot

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Veterinarian and diver Neil Burnie got some face time with the Island's tiger sharks over the weekend, as the “ocean vet” and his team filmed material for a planned TV series based in Bermuda waters.

Dr Burnie and marine biologist Choy Aming spent their Sunday with friends — plus three sharks — some 13 miles offshore, with the diver having to gently fend off an overly curious specimen.

“I think he did become interested me as a potential food source — he circled and repeatedly came right in toward me. I had to let him know that I wasn't the guy he wanted, so I just pushed him down by his head,” the exhilarated Dr Burnie told The Royal Gazette.

The big fish was “clearly the dominant one”, he added, after two other tigers came in to sample a marlin head used by the film team to attract the animals.

Dr Burnie is currently filming material for a pilot episode of a planned 12-part series, aimed for cable distribution and featuring Bermuda's marine environment.

It remains a mystery how the sharks, often very similar in size, are quickly able to sense which of them qualifies as the dominant fish.

“What is it they do to establish their hierarchy? How do they know? We haven't seen enough yet to understand how it's done,” Dr Burnie said.

With shark tourism booming in locations like South Africa, Australia and the Caribbean, the shark watchers hope their work will pave the way for a Bermudian eco tourism product.

“Our aim, in time, is to get others out there to witness up close and personal how magnificent these animals are,” he said.

Photo courtesy of Neil Burnie Predator of the sea: A tiger shark pictured on Sunday by Neil Burnie in waters off Bermuda. Dr Burnie is working on a pilot of a proposed new television show, “Ocean Vet”.
Photo courtesy of Dr Neil Burnie A close-up of the gaping mouth of a tiger shark with its two rows of razor sharp teeth are shown in this photo taken by veterinarian Dr Neil Burnie in waters off Bermuda on Sunday. Dr Burnie is working on a pilot of a proposed new television show, “Ocean Vet”.
Photo courtesy of Neil Burnie Predator of the sea: A tiger shark pictured on Sunday by Neil Burnie in waters off Bermuda. Dr Burnie is working on a pilot of a proposed new television show, “Ocean Vet”.
Photo courtesy of Neil Burnie Predator of the sea: A tiger shark pictured on Sunday by Neil Burnie in waters off Bermuda. Dr Burnie is working on a pilot of a proposed new television show, “Ocean Vet”.
Photo courtesy of Neil Burnie Predator of the sea: A tiger shark pictured on Sunday by Neil Burnie in waters off Bermuda. Dr Burnie is working on a pilot of a proposed new television show, “Ocean Vet”.

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Published September 03, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated September 03, 2013 at 1:37 am)

Local vet films Tiger sharks up close for a TV pilot

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