Sirenia Shadows captures the slow-moving grace of Florida's most unlikely aquatic stars, West Indian manatees. The animals, of the order sirenia, evolved from four-legged mammals and weigh between 440 and 1,300 pounds, swimming at an average speed of three to five miles per hour. This beautifully shot film was created by Paul Wildman, a creative director and filmmaker whose production company, Built by Wildman, specializes in underwater filmmaking and environmental conservation. He describes his work in a short interview below. 

Stills from the video

The Atlantic: What was the inspiration for this project?

Paul Wildman: Honestly it was a fun day out with some very good friends, Julie Andersen, Andy Brandy Casagrande IV and Emma Casagrande. I had previously filmed the manatees about three years ago and was eager to do it again, but this time I really wanted to achieve something different -- playing with the sun rays and then working the footage in postproduction to create something moody and mysterious, and totally different from how we always see them in blue water.

Where did you shoot it?

This was filmed at Crystal River in Florida, a protected sanctuary for the manatees 

What kind of underwater equipment are you working with?

I'm filming with a Sony EX1 and Gates Underwater Housing, and then we just free dive so there’s no noise and no bubbles. 

What's next for you?

Next I am off to the Transkei (Wild Coast), which is situated on the East Coast of South Africa. I will be filming for Yann Arthus Bertrand for his new film. He is famous for films such as Earth From Above and HOME. His new film is going to be totally based in the ocean and how we are, humans are, depleting it. I will be filming the relationship between the fishermen of the East Coast and the sardines, as well as all the predators that interact with the catch -- sharks, seals, game fish, squid and birds.

For more work by Paul Wildman and Built by Wildman, visit

Via the Daily What.