Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sharks, Novels and Nature

My first shark dive

  Before writing this blog entry today I wondered if diving with sharks had anything to do with writing a novel. As I thought about it I realized quite emphatically that the two are connected. Here's why. The urge I felt to write The Last Daughter of Prussia was a powerful one. That same feeling accompanied me on the shark dive I dared to go on yesterday. Both experiences weren't necessarily comfortable initially, but they were compelling. They pushed my envelope and made me feel alive. Also, I am a great lover of nature—nature is where my cells breathe new life, where my being gets activated on all levels—spiritual, emotional and physical. Writing has the same effect on me.

  In researching The Last Daughter I traveled to wondrous places. I dug up old photographs of East Prussia's fauna, forests, lakes and animals. I even journeyed there on several occasions to find inspiration and drink in the beauty of giant oak trees, rolling meadows blazing blue with cornflowers and lakes dotted with wild swans. Underwater yesterday, with sharks swimming overhead and in front of me, I felt  the same magical, if not childlike capacity to experience nature—only this time I saw the sea through the eyes of a shark—a creature that has probably elicited more fear in me than any other creature in the world (except cockroaches—and that's another story!) What most amazed and thrilled me was that even while the sharks bumped my shoulder or swam straight up to my face, I was not afraid. I loved it. I felt a movement inside me, a oneness with nature's magnificent creation.

  Watching the shark handler, Cristina Zenato (who by the way is unbelievable and made the whole experience totally safe) I was struck by the connection that we human beings can have to all living things if we just have respect and allow that connection to happen. I must say that as I viewed this bonding concert between (wo)man and beast my emotions ran the gamut. One moment I was laughing bubbles of delight, the next, I was overcome with mask-fogging tears at the sheer magnificence and power of the sharks connecting with another human in such a profoundly sensitive way.

Cristina Zenato and the reef shark connecting.
 This is just before she puts the shark in a trancelike state
 and lifts her ( it was a female) into a vertical position
If you're interested, check out this video of Cristina
(Make sure you watch it to the end)

 A thank you kiss for the tender display of inter-connecting species.

  Watching I felt ALIVE. Isn't that what we all want on some level? Writing too makes me feel alive. Like nature it is a form of creation.

That's me on the very left—in awe.
  In conclusion I want to say that what made the experience even more beautiful was the companionship (connection) of my husband Jamie and my two good friends, Elly Decter and Mike Morter. Together we shared the joy and excitement in rediscovering the mystery of the world we all live in. In writing don't we share the mysteries of the world we are creating? And isn't it in sharing that we all feel more alive?

  Until next time...
—Marina Gottlieb Sarles

All photos are the property of Unexso— Underwater Explorers Society—Freeport, Bahamas


  1. TuT What an amazing experience! <3

  2. How enthralling. And what a beautiful metaphor for the writing process and the calls to connection—marvelous!!

  3. I am happy to meet with such a wonderful author, I am beginning English course three years ago and your story is good practice for me thank you very much