George Stover's enjoyable shark encounters
"People think the only good shark is a dead shark," says WMAR news photographer George Stover. Not so, insists Mr. Stover, who has written and produced an underwater documentary to dispel the fears of "Jaws"-generation bathers and to increase awareness about the human abuses threatening many shark species.
Mr. Stover, who says he'd never jump out of a plane or bungee jump, went eye-to-eye and tooth-to-tooth with up to a 150 sharks at a time to put together "Shark Encounters of the Bahamas," which airs today at 3:30 p.m. on Channel 2.
The half-hour show takes viewers to three locations in the Bahamas, where recreational divers have abandoned their fears and ventured unprotected into schools of feeding sharks.
Of the approximately 350 species of sharks, only about 3 percent are really dangerous, and half are under three feet long, says Mr. Stover, who teaches scuba diving and underwater videography at East Coast Divers in Havre de Grace.
"Blood will attract sharks, but not throw them into a frenzy," he says. "If you're feeding them dead fish, they're not interested in you. You're not on their menu. When a human is attacked, it's because he's in the wrong place at the wrong time."
Mr. Stover funded his project, which took a year to complete, with help from Zeagle Systems, a Florida manufacturer of diving equipment. The show, with WMAR environmental reporter Scott Broom as host and featuring renowned marine biologist Rick Frehsee and the National Aquarium in Baltimore, will air in 11 other markets this year.
Mr. Stover, who is 44 and has been with Channel 2 for nearly 22 years, lives in Perry Hall with his wife and two children. In the end, it wasn't getting up at dawn, spending hours on a chilly beach or nursing sore muscles that got to "Sports Illustrated" swimsuit model Evelyn Ebo.
It was wearing a bright red bathing cap.
"That was weird," says Ms. Ebo, 28, who lives in Owings Mills. "I haven't worn one of those since I was a kid and my mother made me."
But if you look at "Sports Illustrated 1995 Swimsuit Video," you'll see the graceful performer racing toward the waves in a shimmery red suit and cap. She's scaling an imaginary hurdle. She's posing in a striped bikini. She's offering a sound bite about her days on the Long Island shore.
Ms. Ebo says appearing in the hourlong video along with supermodels Christie Brinkley, Kathy Ireland and Cheryl Tiegs was thrilling, but she was disappointed she didn't make it into the magazine.
"The shoot went so well that we had high hopes of getting into the issue," she says.
"But I guess we could have ended up on the editing room floor," she adds.
A dancer since she was 4, she's worked for the Philadelphia Dance Company, the touring production of "The Wiz" and the TV show "Fame."
As for those who call the video sexist and demeaning to women, Ms. Ebo -- who's 5-foot-8 and 125 pounds -- disagrees.
"What I did takes time, talent, strength and training," she says.
Her 12-year-old stepson, Brandon, was unfazed by the event, but her husband Kenneth, an advertising executive, was more excited.
"He loved it," she says. "But since he's in advertising, he's a little more comfortable with this kind of thing than the average guy."