Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition)

Diving into the life of a dark shyshark

- AMBER COURT

LOCAL free diver Faine Loubser dives deep into the life journey of a dark shyshark foetus in a new nature documentar­y titled Azilali: They Do Not Sleep, filmed in a sea forest along the Cape Peninsula.

The 23-year-old director freelances in film-making, content creation and communicat­ion strategy.

The 12-minute documentar­y was released on October 29 on the People’s Weather Channel on DStv. It is a visual story which does not follow a traditiona­l narrative, tracking the developmen­t of a dark shyshark foetus.

“Azilali” means “they do not sleep” and refers to the creatures of the sea, who always remain alert.

The film shows a common scenario where shark eggs, laid in a kelp forest, are detached by big swells.

“This leaves the egg vulnerable to being washed ashore or eaten by predators like starfish,” Loubser said.

She said an egg gestates for up to five months before the shark hatches.

Sea urchins pick up objects around them, such as shells or stones, to protect their spines – and sometimes loose shark eggs.

“This very random behaviour gives the shark egg another chance at life. It isn’t a mutually beneficial relationsh­ip, rather just luck,” said Loubser.

In never before recorded behaviour, the documentar­y shows a dark shyshark hatching on the back of an urchin.

“I chose to share this story because it takes an intimate look into the lives of little animals few people ever get to see. We have small and harmless sharks swimming in our waters.”

She worked with director of photograph­y Trygve Heide.

“I would describe the process as being quite organic. We would start off with a shot list and have an idea of what we wanted to film.

“However, since we are working with wildlife, we also needed to adapt so that we did not miss out on important moments,” he said.

The soundtrack was composed by local artist Nhlanhla Mahlangu.

The documentar­y will be screened at the Wavescape Surf and Ocean Festival from December 4 to 12.

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