THE SAND EATING SHARK, 52min,. France, Documentary
Directed by Bertrand Loyer
A lemon shark called Manoela grows up in the waters of Fernando do Noronha off the coast of Brazil. Her extraordinary senses allow her to detect scents, sounds and even the tiny electric fields of her prey. In particular, she specializes in a hunting technique that has only ever been observed in this spot: hunting sardines in the waves. When we look closer behind the breakers, we discover unsuspected alliances and unusual behaviours.
Directing the film "The Sand Eating Shark" has been a matter of serendipity. I was directing another show on cephalopods in the remote archipelago of Fernando de Noronha and got a call from a guide to suggest I came and witness extraordinary shark concentrations in the shore break, from the top of a cliff overlooking Praia do Sancho, one of the most beautiful beach in the world. They were cruising amongst dense shoals of sardines. We never actually saw any attacks on sardines but these sharks triggered my curiosity. I knew their behavior has never been properly documented. Only one scientific paper describing their local ethology existed... and it was far from detailled. I felt like writing on a blank page. It took us actually 3 years diving in the shore break to understand the complex hunting tactics of the sharks, how they use their senses to detect their preys, but especially how they associate with other predators ( birds or fish) to capture the swift sardines. Thanks to unique marks ( a hook) on the skin of a female, we managed to follow an individual animal ... which gave me the opportunity to organise the narration as an evergreen tale.