Ocean Shores mermaid dances with the sharks

Hannah Fraser swims with sharks. Photograph: Shawn Heinrichs
Hannah Fraser swims with sharks. Photograph: Shawn Heinrichs

MULLUMBIMBY'S Iggy Azalea might be taking the American rap world by storm but it's another former Byron Shire resident who is making waves of a different kind.

Now living in Los Angeles, California, professional mermaid and conservationist Hannah Fraser has captured global attention for her performance protest against Western Australian's shark cull campaign.

Devoid of any scuba, free-dive or safety gear, Hannah has been filmed dancing on the sea floor with a swarm of tiger sharks up to 17 feet long wearing only body paint and a tiny costume.

The world-first event was filmed by Emmy Award winning cinematographer Shawn Heinrichs, and the world's leading authority on predatory sharks, Jim Abernethy, for an upcoming documentary called Tears of a Mermaid.

Hannah hopes the footage, which can be seen on YouTube, will bring international attention to the global plight of sharks.

"I advocate for greater understanding and awareness for all sea creatures, and hope to inspire people to see that sharks, despite being one of the world's most effective predators, are also intelligent and magnificent animals worthy of protection," said Hannah.

The former Ocean Shores resident, who has swum with great white sharks, whales, dolphins, manta rays, stingrays, turtles and seals, made her first mermaid tail when she was nine years old.

"It was orange, black and gold with sparkles all over it, and I swam in it all the time in our pool," said Hannah, who can dive to depths of 45 feet for up to two minutes.

Hannah's mother Ri Fraser, who is well known for curating the annual Ocean Shores Art Expo, said she encouraged her daughters to trust their own judgement and skill "without projecting my fears on to them".

"I raised Hannah and Jasmine to be independent, creative, and caring; to climb trees, swing on ropes, walk on rooftops," she said.

"Hannah is taking these qualities to quite an extreme!"

While Hannah might seem fearless, Ri said her daughter had a healthy respect for the ocean's conditions and creatures.

"She is walking a path that could open hearts and minds, so that rather than fearing and killing our fellow creatures, we might respect and learn from them."

Topics:  editors picks ocean shores shark

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