Model Molly Cavalli’s close encounter with lemon shark went viral, but some are calling it a hoax.
A veteran shark diver is calling the viral video featuring an adult film star being attacked by a shark as bluff in the water.
The owner and operator of Florida Shark Diving says adult film star Molly Cavalli, who went viral last week after appearing to be attacked by a lemon shark during a promotional underwater shoot, faked the encounter for publicity.
“[Molly] said ‘we want to do a film shoot with a few scantily clad women diving with sharks,’ and we were kind of skeptical of even that,” Bryce Rohrer told. “Then once we started getting the facts of what they actually wanted to do…we declined.”
Rohrer alleges that Cavalli, who works at the adult website CamGirl, detailed in text messages that she wanted to stage a shark attack for the purpose of making the story go viral. Rohrer added that Cavalli specified how the “bite” would look, which included special effects makeup.
“She basically spelled out, ‘We want to do this fake bite, this is what we want it to look like,’” Rohrer said.
After being declined by Rohrer and his team, he says, Cavalli went on to another company and filmed the encounter, which has since racked up nearly 15 million views on YouTube.
Florida Shark Diving, a dive company that has worked with the likes of Discovery Channel’s Shark Week and National Geographic, promotes spreading positive messages about the importance of sharks in the ecosystem, as well as the importance of people protecting the animals.
“I’ve been working with sharks my entire adult career, 300 days a year, I’m on the water diving with sharks. They’re incredible animals, they’re a cornerstone species, meaning they need to be in the oceans at a somewhat healthy level, or else the entire ecosystem literally breaks down,” Rohrer said.
He continued: “So many people these days are working towards saving sharks and the environment is in such a focus right now…when someone comes up with a fake shark attack it just kind of is a blow to all that work.”
Approximately 100 million sharks are illegally slaughtered annually, according to scientific findings published in 2013 in the peer-reviewed journal Marine Policy. National Geographic notes that these sobering numbers, which have been on the rise to feed appetites for shark fin soup, are happening at rates that far exceed from which populations can recover.
Rohrer told that he is hopeful for the future, despite what he calls an “unnecessary” and “unhealthy” viral stunt.
“The cool thing is the last few years and from what I’ve seen, a lot of people, ten years ago it was cool to go out and catch a shark and kill a shark, now everybody wants to go dive with a shark and see a shark…I definitely think we are turning a corner.”
Earlier this week, Camsoda vice-president Darren Press said: “Our intention was to have Molly quickly dive into the shark cage with the camera and begin broadcasting as lemon sharks circled nearby.
Lemon sharks are predominantly docile and relatively harmless. If, as claimed, the attack was staged to gain publicity, it has worked.
The clip has clocked up more than 14million views on YouTube.
Molly Cavalli has not yet responded to a request for comment.