Millionaire Emilio Largo‘s (ADOLFO CELI) unusual hobby, which he stores in one of his Palmyra estate’s swimming pools, in Thunderball. He collects these big-game fish for various marine institutions, a fact he relates to James Bond (SEAN CONNERY) during the latter’s social visit to Palmyra. It is this salient fact that helps 007 find the missing NATO bomber when Felix Leiter (RIK VAN NUTTER) maneuvers his helicopter over the actual Golden Grotto region of the Caribbean. In reality, the Golden Grotto sharks are tiger sharks.
After Bond finds the body of Paula Caplan (MARTINE BESWICK), he gets into a fight with one of Largo’s henchmen, and both men fall into the shark pool. It was a difficult sequence because 007 is caught in the pool without a diver’s mask, thus prohibiting the use of a double. Reluctantly, Connery agreed to swim with the huge tiger sharks.
Said underwater cinematographer Lamar Boren, “Those sharks weren’t drugged, nor were their jaws wired. They were the real thing, and Sean was depending on us to keep him out of trouble. But you really don’t have to worry about sharks anyway, unless there’s blood in the water or a lot of garbage. And in that pool, the sharks were very sluggish. They ended up ignoring Sean and just swimming around.”
The same tiger sharks were later used in the eerie sequence where Bond finds the Vulcan bomber.