Meet Underwater Photographer Jake Wilton
Jake Wilton is an underwater photographer/guide based on the Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia. Jake first began diving in 2007 as young kid and has since spent nearly 15 years diving with sharks around Australia. Now based in Coral Bay, Jake works as a wildlife photographer with Ningaloo Marine Interactions and hopes to use his images to help change the perceptions of sharks around the world.
1. What is your favorite shark and why?
Tiger Shark. They have a special presence about them and each shark has such a unique personality. It is very difficult to earn the trust of a tiger, but when you do it makes for some incredible and humbling encounters.
Tiger Shark Image: Jake Wilton
2. What is one shark you would like to photograph?
Oceanic white tip shark. The are such a beautiful shark and are usually found In the deep blue which would make for beautiful images.
3. How did you get in underwater photography? What was the first species you photographed?
I grew up diving in New South Wales and as a guide I always had a compact camera in hand although I never really got into photography until living on the Ningaloo Reef for a few years. After purchasing my first dslr and underwater housing in late 2018 I have been completely obsessed. The first species of shark I photographed was the grey nurse shark. We have an aggregation site called Fish Rock Cave in my home town South West Rocks.
4. Do you believe photos and videos are powerful for conservation?
Personally I believe photos and videos are the most powerful tool to help drive conservation out into the world. People have to see the issues with their own eyes to truly appreciate the gravity of the situations. Most people aren’t directly affected or witnessing the problems our planet is facing and it is up to us as photographers to convey the message to them.
Zebra Shark (Stegostoma fasciatum) Image: Jake Wilton
5. What is the coolest/most interesting thing you've seen while diving with sharks or rays?
I have been lucky enough to have been diving and working with sharks and rays for almost 15 years now since I was a kid so I have been extremely lucky in what I have seen during that time. It is really hard to pick a favorite but I think free diving alongside 30 plus 5 meter tiger sharks while they fed on a whale carcass probably takes the cake.
6. What is the most challenging thing about photographing sharks?
The most challenging thing would have to be just being able to get close enough to them. Sharks are really shy animals and you need do a lot of different things for them to be comfortable enough to come close to you for a good image.
7. What is one thing you wish everyone knew about sharks?
That they aren’t the mindless killing machines they are made out to be. Everyone labels all the species under “shark” and are scared of all of them even though only 4 out of the 500 odd species are even potentially dangerous. Even then the danger risk is absurdly minimal compared to everything else we have to deal with in our lives.
Blacktip reef sharks Image: Jake Wilton