Sleek geek films a spider insider
DO SPIDERS make you squirm?
They needn't, according to Casino High School student Brandon Gifford who has been named a finalist in the Sleek Geeks science prize for the fourth consecutive year, this time for his video about spiders.
Sleek Geeks is the school student category of the Australian Museum's Eureka Prize - a national award that recognises excellence in science and research.
Spectacular Spider is Brandon's fourth cinematic masterpiece filmed, edited, narrated and directed by him.
He hopes the film will help "people to recognise, respect and maybe even love the spider".
The young man from Casino has gone on to win the competition for the past two years with documentary videos about liz- ards and snakes and has his fingers crossed for a third win.
"It's really surreal to be nominated for the fourth time," Brandon said.
Brandon loves exotic wildlife and has four snakes, one lizard and two dogs at home.
"I've got two sisters as well," Brandon joked.
The eco-warrior has been touted as a young Steve Irwin for his focus on conservation in each of his videos; however the 17-year-old said he wasn't allowed to watch Irwin's show, The Crocodile Hunter growing up.
"I'm not trying to follow in his footsteps or anything.
"It's more that my parents couldn't stop me getting out into the bush when I was younger."
Brandon is in the final year of high school and plans on doing a bachelor of applied science.
"I'd also like to continue with the wildlife documentaries."
Spectacular Spider features a bird-eating spider named Fango that Brandon has subsequently sold to a school-mate.
Brandon said he hopes the video will raise awareness of conservation of spiders and other arachnoids, with 10,000 bird-eating spiders a year being taken from the wild in North Queensland for the pet shop trade.
He encourages all Australians to respect our native environment and get to know what is around us.
"If you're passionate about conservation you need to pursue it, full steam ahead," Brandon said.