Hard to Fathom

Sharks would not be my normal area of interest for television viewing of an evening. More likely, they’d be the experience of a horrifying nightmare. I’d be more inclined to watch CSPAN2 BookTV or a documentary on a comedian like Billy Crystal or musician like Errol Garner to relax.

But when I heard it announced that a film by underwater photographers and filmmakers Michele and Howard Hall was coming up on KPBS’ Nature Wednesday night, for a very personal reason, I duly noted it in my calendar. It was the Halls I wanted to see, even if the program frighteningly was called Shark Mountain.

Just recently, I met and interviewed the Halls at their Del Mar home and studio, an encounter that opened my eyes and a store of facts to a whole world apart from my own. I was absolutely mesmerized by their achievements and totally in awe of how anyone could go as deep underwater as they do, hauling around equipment and cavorting with apparent dangers. The creatures, colors and textures beneath the water’s surface are truly another world that so many of us have never entered, with a sensual, ethereal beauty that’s hard to fathom. (See SDH/GL’s June issue, for my story on the Halls.)

Shark Mountain turned out to be a fascinating television hour well spent, sort of “behind the scenes” with the diving filmmakers. It was visually beautiful, instructive, paced with a little humor and undeniably championed care for the wonders of our environment. I’m going to give it a second view (KPBS.org/tv for repeats), though you won’t find me swimming with the sharks anytime soon.