GENEVA (Switzerland)- The Save Our Seas Foundation (SOSF) has released the film ‘Sharks: Older Than Trees online. The story is about shark scientist Dr James Lea, a field biologist deeply committed to a hopeful future for sharks and rays. Viewers can stream the film for free on YouTube, journeying with Lea as he travels the planet using his expertise to save sharks. The SOSF hopes that together we can learn how science helps inform how and where sharks and rays can thrive.

This is a film about hope for the future of sharks and rays. The film tells the story of James Lea, a field biologist who grew up dreaming of sharks, enigmatic creatures of the deep. In his first few years as a field biologist, he fell in love with silky sharks in the Red Sea, where he interacted with them and learned their individual personalities. But in the space of just a few years he watched as almost each and every animal he had known was lost to overfishing. Feeling heartbroken and helpless, Lea resolved to use his expertise as a scientist to protect sharks in places where they still have a chance to thrive.

Safeguarding sharks

Older Than Trees highlights Lea’s work in the field and the success he’s contributed to in safeguarding these ancient species. Using both new and never-before-seen archival footage, the film takes us on an expedition around the world that showcases the critical role science plays in safeguarding vulnerable species like sharks and rays. ‘We rely on our oceans for food, livelihoods, climate regulation and our well-being, and sharks play many crucial roles in the stability of ocean systems. Increasingly, we risk losing this stability through intense overfishing; global shark populations have declined by more than 70%. Sharks really, really need our help,’ says Lea. ‘This is where the science comes in. Filling knowledge gaps about sharks and their behaviour helps us to target conservation efforts, making sure they are as effective as possible.’

Craig Foster, co-founder of Sea Change Project and executive producer of Older Than Trees,comments, ‘It was a joy to work with Pippa, James and the Save Our Seas Foundation team. The team have dedicated their lives to ocean conservation, using science to protect sharks and marine habitats – in essence, protecting the life-support system of humans and all life on earth.’ He added, ‘This is a very important story – in a larger sense, perhaps the most important story. It’s very exciting for me and my colleagues at Sea Change Project to work with the Save Our Seas Foundation and to collaborate on projects for the ocean. The great transformation many are praying for, where we prioritise Mother Nature in everything we do, will only come through massive multi-level collaboration. For Sea Change, it is a privilege to be a tiny cog in that very big wheel.’

Older Than Trees is a compelling reminder of the value of impact-driven science in the urgent mission to protect and restore populations of threatened animals like sharks. On the impact of the film, Lea says, ‘Although I love sharks, I never dreamed I would get to know, and grow deeply fond of, particular individuals. These are connections I cherish, and ones that I hope future generations will get the privilege to experience too.’

You can watch Older Than Trees on YouTube at: The film has been playing in festivals around the globe, acquiring numerous award nominations and being proclaimed ‘Best Documentary Short Film’ at the Braga Science Film Festival. It will be available to stream from 18 December 2023 on YouTube and Vimeo.