With the popularity of movies like Jaws, it’s no secret that sharks are often considered the “bad guy” of the ocean, but wildlife cinematographers and shark specialists Joe and Lauren Romeiro are fighting to change this label. These powerful fish play a vital role in our ocean’s ecosystem, and their populations are diminishing at an alarming rate, creating a vital need for action.
If you watched this year’s “Shark Week” on Discovery Channel or discovery+, you may have caught a glimpse of the Romeiros’ impressive work. The Exeter couple is a well-respected and accomplished film team dedicated to shark conservation and education, and both Joe and Lauren have work featured on Discovery Channel, Lionsgate Pictures, National Geographic, and more. Joe is an award-winning cinematographer and executive director of 333 Productions LLC, and Lauren is a marine scientist and photographer/cinematographer who currently operates a research vessel out of Wakefield. The mission is simple: to give voice to the animals they admire in the face of negative attention sharks receive.
The need for shark education and conservation is immediately clear when given the statistics. “We lose 100 million sharks per year. By this calculation, that’s three sharks per second,” explains Joe, citing shark fishing tournaments, a desire for shark meat and fins, and the use of shark products in supplements as some causes. Why is this number problematic? Sharks protect smaller fish from larger predators, allowing these smaller fish to grow and reproduce. When shark numbers dwindle, fish populations become unbalanced and suffer, which has a detrimental ripple effect on the environment. “We have an admiration for this animal. It’s free, it’s beautiful, it’s powerful, it’s frightening – it has all these traits we admire,” Joe states. There’s an entire week of television dedicated to celebrating the animal, and yet, its survival is often overlooked.
The couple offers various ways to aid conservation efforts, with education playinga large role. Sharks are not out to attack humans, and misconceptions like this need to be corrected. As Lauren explains, “The more people learn about them, the more they understand them and don’t fear them,” making people more willing to help. In addition to learning about sharks, people can check goods like cosmetics and medications to ensure they don’t have shark products in them, abstain from shark fishing, be active and vocal, and support shark conservation campaigns. With these efforts, the Romeiros are optimistic that positive change can be made. “We’ve been able to protect things all over the world by just having enough eyes on it,” Joe says, adding, “if we get enough eyes on here, enough people are going to care, and things are going to change.”
More eyes are certainly being put on the topic through their work, as well as the documentary Fin on discovery+, in which the Romeiros worked with Hollywood director Eli Roth and executive producer Leonardo DiCaprio. The Romeiros’ Instagram accounts (@laurenromeiro333 and @joeromeiro333) and web presence (laurenromeiro.com, 333productions.com, and joeromeiro.com) also provide information and footage. “Long story short, you can tell we love sharks,” says Joe, and with their work, the couple hopes that more people will come to care for sharks, too.