To many, sharks are to be feared. They’ve had a bad rap over the years and been demonized in the press. But in actual fact

, sharks greatly benefit marine ecosystems. That doesn’t stop a handful of countries from killing them though. But take the sharks out of the ecosystem and you’re left with an ocean that is unbalanced for all marine life.

One man bringing awareness to the plight of sharks and advocating for their protection is Benjamin Von Wong. This Canadian photographer recently ventured to Fiji to photograph sharks in their natural habitat, but also shot model Amber Bourke underwater with those sharks.

“There lies an entire universe underneath the ocean that we think so little about, let alone have the chance to experience very often. And so, I wanted to create a shot that captured all of this magic and mystery,” said Von Wong.

For each and every shot, Bourke was weighed down underwater on a “perfectly lit rock formation where light was falling.” When everything was in place, she was handed a shepherd’s crook and then waited in the water for the sharks to approach.

Not only was there limited oxygen during the shoot, but there was just a two-hour window everyday for photographing (between 11am and 1pm) to get active sharks in the light. Over three days, Von Wong and his team of experienced divers waited a total of six hours in the water.

“I hope that by creating a series like this, we can help transform the way we see sharks and prove that there is something truly beautiful and worth protecting,” Von Wong said. “Just like sharks are the shepherds of the sea, we are the shepherds of our generation, and we can make a difference and have our voices heard.”

Von Wong has produced magical photographs here but there’s a deeper message in his work — shark conservation needs our attention. To keep these majestic creatures alive and protected throughout Malaysia, Von Wong and conservation partner Shark Stewards are collecting signatures from the online community to create a Malaysian shark sanctuary, which will help save the ocean.

Read about the petition on and see more of Benjamin Von Wong’s work here.

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