The Gruesome History of the First Underwater Film

Popular Science reveals the lost footage capturing the rather gruesome history of the first time the deep sea had ever been filmed. The filmmaker J.E. Williamson used his own invention of a photosphere, an airtight chamber that was sunk deep under water for the specific task of filming the scenery. The film itself was senselessly cruel, a dead horse was dangled to attract a shark, a diver would then go in and kill the shark for a thrilling on-camera battle. The first shark was killed out of camera range, so Williamson dove in and killed another shark on camera. When he returned to the photosphere to capture more footage of the poor creature’s lifeless body. This footage is now known as “Terrors of the Deep”.

How strange that the first moving images recorded of this little-seen world were of a dead horse lowered upside down as bait for a shark. Not only to lure the animal to the camera, but to lure it to its death…That violence was preferred over beauty…J.E. promised his financiers a fight between man and shark. …PopSci found the lost and forgotten first underwater film. It’s a story too strange and horrifying to be fiction…

JE Williamson

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.