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Valerie de la Valdene , 2007

Noted for filming Hammerheads: Nomads of the Sea, Valerie also was featured on television with Montel Williams, Jane Pauley, Geraldo Riviera, Jim McLaughlin, and CNN talking about illegal shark finning. Valerie worked on a children’s film for Discovery Channel and joined with Wild Classroom to podcast an educational program on the internet, which reached over 100 million children. Valerie was co-cinematographer for the TV show The Aquanauts (1999 to 2002), but she is probably most famous for recording her own shark attack on film. She almost lost her life in 2004 when an aggressive Galapagos Shark attacked her. Yet she says, “I don’t actually believe sharks attack humans. We put ourselves into their environment and they don’t even realize that we’re there. We are just prey. They think that we’re an animal, perhaps, like a sea lion or another animal that’s on the surface. I think sharks are just living, feeding, and going about their business, and now that there are more people in the oceans, surfers, divers, etc., we’re crowding their space. It’s not like zoos; we can’t corral the ocean. You know, the ocean is the ocean, the sharks are sharks, the animals are there.” 

Valerie lived and volunteered at a local school in the Galapagos, giving children an alternative to fishing and finning. She died in 2014.