If you are a fan of Shark Week on Discovery, then you know marine biologist and aussie hunk Luke Tipple, who looks good in and out of a wet suit. Fans of Shark Week this year were introduced to a new underwater rover specially designed by Luke and his team of underwater engineers in a partnership with VW. Luke and his team working with the design team at VW took a standard steel shark cage and constructed an underwater rover in the shape of a classic VW Bug.
After Sharks - Diving In With Luke Tipple
JTH - What's your first memory of the ocean? When did you consciously fall in love with the water?
LT - Seeing my dad diving with sharks as we spearfished at 5 years old. That coupled with an obsession for everything Jacque Cousteau had me telling my parents at 6 that I would grow up to be a marine biologist.
JTH - So let's talk about the underwater Bug... What was the design process like transforming an a shark proof observation cage into a VW Bug?
LT - VW gave us the design inspiration and my team did the rest. We have marine engineers and designers who created a functional cage made of tubular aluminum that replicates the iconic shape of the Beetle. Unlike last year’s trip, the Beetle Convertible needed to be prepared for the challenges of the Subaquatic Road Trip, which will allow viewers to watch me take the Beetle Convertible Shark Cage along the ocean floor.
JTH - What were some the challenges of such a project?
LT - This year we wanted to do everything I didn’t get to do last year and making the VW Shark Cage fly was at the top of that list. This was actually extremely challenging and we went through a lot of testing before we dialed in the vehicle’s dynamics and operations. Viewers will see a much more technical vehicle and many more locations as we traveled around the Caribbean in search of different shark species.
JTH - Now you have a new underwater rover with this new twist on the classic VW Bug design, what are some of its features that you are most proud of?
LT - Unlike a regular shark cage, the vehicle needed to have some extra features to be able to journey through deeper water and a variety of underwater terrain featured in this year’s trip. The one-of-a-kind observation vehicle was modified to look like the 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible with added features like a third thruster for more power and dive planes so the vehicle could fly to visit places on the ocean floor when you can’t drive.
JTH - Great Whites. These iconic creatures have a very mixed image in popular culture, what would you like to tell the public about them?
LT - Great Whites are villainized by the media and are not nearly as monstrous as they are made out to be.
JTH - Working with Discovery Channel's Shark Week as a Marine Biologist, what footage excites you?
LT - Anything that changes the way we look at sharks or gives us a new angles or insight into their behavior.
JTH - Suggestions on how people can become involved with saving our marine wildlife?
LT - Check out the Shark Week website and get involved with the partners. Also, refuse to patronize hotels or restaurants that serve shark or shark fin soup. Your money speaks.
Follow Justin Travis Howard, Lifestyle Writer @jthnomad