Happy Birthday, Stan!

Today is Stan Waterman’s 100th birthday!

For those who don’t know, Stan Waterman is a five time Emmy winning cinematographer and a pioneering giant in the world of shark diving. We mention Stan a couple times in Chasing Shadows because 1) he is a pioneering giant in the world of shark diving (as previously stated) and 2) because he was a big influence on my co-author Greg’s life and career.

When I was first getting to know Greg, he mentioned the movie “Blue Water, White Death” on several occasions. I was familiar with the movie because of Peter Matthiessen’s 1971 Blue Meridian: The Search for the Great White Shark about the making of the film (I wrote about that a bit in this blog post), but I had not seen the film in years. It is extraordinary on many levels, and we talk about the “feeding frenzy” scene in the book. Stan Waterman was both a producer and photographer on the film.

Stan enters Chasing Shadows in chapter three. It’s 1979, and Jack Casey (Greg’s mentor and the author of Chasing Shadows‘ forward) had mobilized a team that included Frank Carey of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to try and study white sharks in the western Atlantic. The work was mostly funded by ABC television, and the network sent a film crew that included Stan Waterman. It was a win-win, where the scientists got some of their research funded and the network got some great footage shot by Stan for their popular American Sportsman show.

Fast forward to chapter nine of Chasing Shadows. It’s now 2010 and Greg is preparing to dive with a white shark feeding on a whale carcass off Cape Cod. When I was interviewing Greg about that day, he told me Stan Waterman was very much front of mind as he prepared to enter the water with the 18-foot shark. We write:

“Nobody had filmed white sharks underwater in the Atlantic since Stan Waterman filmed the segment for ABC’s American Sportsman in 1979. It was something for which I’d been waiting my entire life, and I happened to have one of the best underwater cameramen in the world [Nick Caloyianis] at my side.”

What happens next was both one of the most exciting and terrifying moments in Greg’s life, but you’ll have to read the book to get the whole story. We also include a couple pictures of the incident in the book’s 16-page photo insert, but here’s a bonus picture Greg snapped of the shark he and Nick would name Curly.

These connections with our mentors and heroes across time are so humbling and rewarding. Happy Birthday, Stan!

P.S. As many of you know, I live on the coast of Maine, and Stan Waterman was the first resident of Maine to purchase an aqualung following World War II. How cool is that?!

About Ret Talbot

Ret Talbot is a freelance writer who covers fisheries at the intersection of science and sustainability. His work has appeared in publications such as National Geographic, Mongabay, Discover Magazine, Ocean Geographic and Coral Magazine. He lives on the coast of Maine with his wife, scientific illustrator Karen Talbot.
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