December 2011 / January 2012 | Issue 20
w w w . a f r i c a n d i v e r. c o m
Yo u r F r e e O n l i n e D i v i n g M a g a z i n e
w w w . a f r i c a n d i v e r. c o m
F E AT U R E S 6
Shark nets in paradise
Yoga and Freediving
Health and Safety 38
Breathless despreration Diving with Asthma
Cover Photographed by Andrew Woo d b u r n
Cormac McCreesh & Paul Hunter
African Diver cc
Postnet Suite 215
Private Bag X10
083 708 3847
Tel: + 27(0) 73 036 5829
Fax: 086 503 7177
Paul: 083 391 8961
88 Lesley Rochat
Coopers Light Wreck
Fax: 086 503 7177
Underwater Photography 58
Pa g e 2 | www.africandiver.com
Wo m a n & D i v i n g
+ 27(0) 83 391 8961
Editorial Enquiries Cormac: 073 036 5829
Wr e c k
How to photograph sharks
Co n t e n t s
Pa g e 3 | w w w. af r i c a n d i ve r. c o m
E d’s Logbook As the year draws to an end we normally look back and reflect on the many regrets or accomplishments we have. The “what if’s” and “if only’s”. Personally, I believe we should leave the past where it belongs and concentrate on the future. We can’t do anything about yesterday, but we can make a change for the future. My case in point would be a subject I’m most passionate about; sharks. There is not much we can do about the million upon millions that have been slaughtered for their fins but if we all stand together and fight for the protection of these awesome creatures that have inhibited this planet for some 400 million years, maybe we can make a difference. We can’t just stand by as these animals are eliminated. I often wonder what my son will say to me one day when he is grown up and the oceans are empty. “ Dad, what did you do to make a difference? “ A sobering thought, well for me anyway. In our latest issue we cover the subject of sharks extensively. Allen Walker shares with us his advice on how to photograph them. Allen has a lot of experience in this respect and you may remember him from an article he did in issue 15 regarding baited shark dives and entanglements. Luke Sorensen shares a two part article of his experience of a close encounter with a great white shark while surfing and witnessing a great white shark killed on the beach that had been caught on a drum line.
We then look at possible reasons for the increased number of shark attacks, the nets and drum lines we use to protect swimmers and what possible other alternatives we can use. In this issue of Women and Diving we feature Lesley Rochat, also known as the “Shark Warrior” for her passionate efforts in shark conservation. So as you can see, a very shark rich issue. Another controversial topic we cover is diving for asthma sufferers. Noranne Dovey tells us of her lifelong fight with asthma and how she still managed to pursue her dream of diving. Moving from an article on limited breath to one of limiting breath, Helen Weaver draws the link between practicing yoga and being a free diver. And, for the wreck divers, Bryan Hart shares with us his pursuit of the background and mystery of the Cooper Light Wreck off the Bluff in Durban. Back in 2004 I met Evert Nel for the first time at the annual Sodwana Shootout; a photographic and video competition we hold every year in South Africa. I remember him well for a number of reasons: he spoke openly about underwater photography and shared his experiences with me, and at that time had the top of the range (housed) DSLR Canon which was impressive to say the least. And I still remember his images from the competition. So I was personally pleased when Evert agreed to feature in our magazine as I have always admired his work. Paul.
Photographed by Luke S o ren s en Pa g e 4 | www.africandiver.com
Words and photos by Luke Sorensen
Co n t e n t s
Pa g e 5 | w w w. af r i c a n d i ve r. c o m
Shark nets in paradise | Part 1 Sunny and tropical South East Queensland, on the East coast
For several hours I listened to his paranoia ebb and flow, but
of Australia is known the world over for its amazing golden
finally convinced him that he was overreacting and we set off into
sand beaches, crystalline warm waters and abundance of
the waves. About half an hour into our session, we were sitting
opportunities for the traveler and local alike. The place oozes
facing each other waiting for the next set when he looked and ever
charisma in a natural sense yet also boasts a healthy population
so calmly proclaimed to me, “There’s a huge fucking shark right
of around two million city and suburban dwelling residents,
behind you.” As anyone would do in this situation, I laughed and
perched on the ocean’s doorstep, living the ‘good life’.
told him “shut up mate, or you’ll bring a real shark in on us”.
For most people it would be the last place they would associate
I turned and paddled away towards the next set of waves,
with White Sharks, far from the seal colonies and bird nests of
however when I spun around again, he was nowhere to be seen.
the Southern coastline – but for me it’s my home, it is aptly
Moments later I spotted him on the beach, sitting next to his board
named Surfers Paradise and for many years has always been the
on the sand and gazing out toward the sea.
very first place I think of when the Great White is mentioned. I had my first encounter here with a White back in 1998, that day
Immediately I thought “good riddance to bad vibes” and
and the story itself could fill so many pages with exhilarating
continued surfing for the next half an hour, getting wave after
and frightening text, so I’ll keep it as short and sweet as I can.
wave to myself, tube ride after tube ride. Looking down the beach I spotted a beautiful wave breaking about 75 metres away, the
Main Beach, Gold Coast (on one of the many netted sections of
lefthander was tubing perfectly off the sand bar, one of the bigger
beach here) October 1998. It was a gray and cloudy spring day,
waves. I let out a silent gasp as I watched it roll down the line, all
the water was murky with rain run-off from the estuary inlet
the while mind-surfing it as one does when you see such a perfect,
nearby, my neighbor and I had been keen for a surf all morning
with the conditions still, four feet of nice groundswell and a light offshore breeze.
Gradually out of the shoulder of the wave appeared a massive dark shape, with a notable square edge on it, I immediately tried
He spoke all morning of his uncertainty about this day,
to think of what it could be; it was so very big. I asked myself was
especially in relation to sharks; the day was perfect for surfing
it debris washed out of the river? Was it a chunk of metal? Was it
but was also the perfect conditions for a shark attack.
part of a shipping container?
Pa g e 6 | www.africandiver.com
It quickly occurred to me that it was moving with the wave
Ironically I would have looked so much like a seal, with my
at the same velocity, so it had to be big and it had to be
5’11’’ Mark Richards twin fin board gliding across the surface,
streamlined, but I still couldn’t even begin to imagine what
me frantically stroking away to reach my goal.
it could be, it was like nothing that I had ever seen. In what seemed like minutes but was probably more like As it began to sink again it rolled and I saw an enormous
seconds, I hit the sand and felt the adrenaline release through
pectoral fin rise from the water and instantly like a light
my legs and body. I gently made my way back down the beach
bulb going “bing!” in my head, only one thing matched that
to my friend and calmly sat by his side, he was still gazing out
shape. The pectoral fin must have been two metres at least
to sea. I took a deep breath and delicately asked him, “Now,
in length; white underneath with the unmistakable patch of
what did you mean by ‘there’s a huge shark behind you’?” He
black - and this thing had now gone into the gutter, into the
went on to explain that the shark had popped up behind me
channel between the beach and myself.
with its dorsal fin high, and had come straight in for both of us.
My heart was pounding now, but my body was calm and firm with intent as I tried to guess where the shark was now. I
He had watched as the fin sank below the surface just behind
tried to track its last trajectory in my mind and soon realized
me and the shark had gone directly under us, missing me by
that this thing is faster than I could possibly imagine. I took
a few feet and disappearing as it passed by under us. I now
the next decent wave and rode it towards the deep channel,
recall that the reason he didn’t shout or scream was that he
right towards where I thought the shark would be - it was
was frozen with fear at the time; he had turned white, and
not a hard decision to make given that all my understanding
could only utter the words before heading to shore. He was
of this creature compelled me to behave in a way that would
still white faced as we sat on the shore recounting the scene.
be the opposite of its usual prey.
He had watched the shark pace up and down the line-up, behind me and around me for twenty minutes, but was utterly
As I rode into the deeper water, I pushed and paddled like
frozen with fear, clinically in shock. I don’t blame him or hold
there was no tomorrow, the wave went flat and I rode the
any grudges for leaving me there, each to their own and we
unbroken swell across the deep water, all the way to the
all handle things differently. He described the shark as like
beach and all the while praying that I didn’t end up floating
having a VW Combi Van swim under you, enough to make
in that flat bit of channel, in what could only be described as
most men curl up and freeze.
“no mans land”. Co n t e n t s
Pa g e 7 | w w w. af r i c a n d i ve r. c o m
Shark spotters on the mountainside above the beach keep watch on the local population of great white sharks. Four flags can be raised on the beach: green (shark spotter on duty, water clear, no shark in area), red (shark spotted in last 2 hours), black (visibility too low to spot sharks), or white with a shark (shark is present, siren is sounding, bathers must exit water). Photographed by Kathleen Reaugh/Marine Photobank
Pa g e 8 | www.africandiver.com
After reviewing my take on that day, at no time did I feel
The real danger, the real threat that day was the drum-line and
that that shark wanted to eat me, or even bite me. If it did,
hook, it was the mindless killer, it was the white death and it
none of us would have seen it, it allowed itself to be seen, and
was gunning for her. I truly hope she made it out of the Gold
was cleverly gauging our reactions. Great White sharks are
Coast and continued after the humpbacks down south, after all
incredibly intelligent, much more that we even understand.
thatâ€™s what she was here for, nothing more.
We (mankind) are now learning that they possess unrivalled intelligence in the shark world. It was curious and almost playful in its manner, and surely would have made a meal of me if I behaved exactly like its usual prey. Thankfully I acted quite differently, like a freaked out surfer on a tiny board with half a turd hanging out my arse ha! I am very grateful for the experience and feel blessed to have seen such an amazing creature in the wild, unobstructed, natural and in some ways, to interact with it. The last thought that occurred to me on the beach that day was as I looked up I could see the buoys of the shark nets not far off behind the breakers, the two bigger buoys marking the ends of that section of the nets, knowing that they were armed with large hooks and chunks of meat, looking to kill this magnificent creature. I saw first hand how the actual nets did not protect me in any way from interacting with this shark, and that the shark didnâ€™t want to eat me or even bite me. I was comfortable with the shark, knowing that it is his home, and he (actually most probably a she) had politely asked me to leave. I had obliged and she had gone about her business, as her kind has done for millions of years. Co n t e n t s
Although many international visitors flock to Gansbaai to see the famous Great Whites- each day on the same harbour where they launch, tons of sharks are caught, finned and exported for the Asian fin market. Fiona Ayerst/Marine Photobank Pa g e 9 | w w w. af r i c a n d i ve r. c o m
Shark nets in paradise | Part 2 The East Coast of Australia is home to many wonderful things,
Previously Western Australia has never had shark nets or drum-
but one thing I’m not so proud of is that it’s also home the largest
lines, relying on simple aerial and beach shark spotting methods
array of shark nets and drum-lines any where in the world.
at popular areas. The environmental side have also kicked into gear labelling the suggested measures as drastic, fear driven and
From Southern New South Wales to up along the coastline of
Queensland, hundreds of nets are checked, re baited and re set daily, hoping to catch the next “killer shark” – but sadly the harsh
One thing is certain though, undeniably the incidents of fatal
truth is a long way from the idealistic view in which our state
White Shark interactions in Australia have stepped up a notch this
governments enact the management of our beaches and waterways.
year, claiming the lives of no less than four people in unprovoked attacks. I ask myself why this may be the case, could it be that there
Every year the shark nets and drum-lines kill thousands in the
are a lot more sharks now? Or is it something else? One theory
way of by-catch and non-lethal sharks, including many endangered
that many overlook is that there are now more people than ever
species of turtles, dolphins, dugongs, rays, the occasional whale
entering the water to dive, surf and swim, with Australia enjoying
and large fish species.
a population boom like most of the world.
Until recently, measures in place to account for catch numbers have been dubious at best, the real numbers may never be known. Australia is also home to one of the world’s largest populations of White Sharks, with a territory spanning almost three quarters of the coastline. New studies are now revealing that some of the sharks actually migrate every year or two between the Southern regions of Africa and back again. A recent spate of fatal attacks on the Southern coast of Western Australia has resulted in public outcry calling for the implementation of shark control programs (such as netting and baited drum-lines) at the popular beaches around Perth, as well as extreme measures such as culling. A pile of dead six gill or soup-fin sharks waiting to be transported for processing. Photographed by Fiona Ayerst/Marine Photobank Pa g e 1 0 | www.africandiver.com
Almost 23 million people now call Australia home, with the vast majority living a short drive from the ocean. Every year
tag and monitor resident sharks near popular swimming areas and assess technologies like shark repellent devices.
more and more people take to the water recreationally and professionally, seeking out the wonder and bounty that the sea
In addition, the WA Department of Fisheries will implement a
has to offer, so it would naturally be easy to suggest that the
community engagement strategy and media campaign to give
chances of a White Shark encountering a human would increase
the public information about avoiding shark hazards. Despite
the great news, The WA Government will continue to investigate whether shark nets are an option.
At the end of the day though, thereâ€™s an ever-raging debate in Australia regarding shark control, and everyone has a
In the short term this is a very pleasing result however I do
differing opinion. The Western Australian government recently
still hold concerns for the future of Western Australian shark
announced that it was going to wait for more data before
populations, hoping that the WA Government donâ€™t decide to
deciding on drastic measures, and called for money to be spent
follow in the footsteps of the Queensland and New South Wales
on research as well as other deterrents such as more aerial
patrols, and a proposed SMS (phone text) service that could Australia is also driven by an enormous tourism industry, that
alert beach users to the location of large sharks.
is reliant on the perception that shark netting makes it safe to In November this year Western Australia Fisheries Minister
swim in the ocean, which as I have come to understand over the
Norman Moore announced that the State Government will
years is not quite the truth. Around 30 to 40 percent of larger
spend more than A$13.65 million into non-lethal shark
(2m plus) sharks caught in nets are found on the beach side
mitigation strategies, and for the time being ruled out any
of the net, which are placed intermittently and provide little
culling of sharks, any relocating or culling of seal populations
protection at all.
or the use of drum-lines as a deterrent. Most animals that encounter a shark net or drum-line are helicopter
worse off with many experiencing a slow and painful death,
surveillance patrols and the text message alert system. As well
with no evidence that they were posing a threat to people at
as that a dedicated Shark Response Unit will be established to
Co n t e n t s
Pa g e 1 1 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
Pa g e 1 2 | www.africandiver.com
So really what does a drum-line do? A drum-line is a large baited hook, attached to an anchored buoy that lays in wait hoping to lure in a shark. Simply put, if a shark does become hooked, it can be hours or days before it is found and removed, it dies a horrible and slow death. In 2008, nearly ten years to the day after my first ever encounter with a Great White, I was sadly witness to the last living moments of a beautiful specimen that met its untimely end chained to a drum-line. In front of my house, just south of Surfers Paradise, this shark had become hooked and managed to twist itself free from the anchor that held the line. For many hours it swam up and down the beach with the large buoy just metres behind, forever pulling it towards the surface until a local lifeguard spotted the buoy floating amongst the surf break. Much to the lifeguardâ€™s surprise, when he waded out until he was chest deep in the water to remove the buoy from the waves, he felt something tugging on the end, and soon found himself face to face with a two and a half metre White Shark. With help from another they wrangled the shark to shore, which at the time was definitely part of their obligatory duty as lifeguards - it was a courageous effort given the circumstances, but the mood quickly became sombre as they realised that the shark was alive but tired. Pa g e 1 3 | www.africandiver.com
The hook was buried deep in its throat and nobody was going to get in there and get it out. I arrived just a few minutes after it came ashore and began shooting pictures - it was terribly sad, but also an awesome experience to be so close to a living Great White, to look deep into its big black eyes and wonder in amazement. Almost instantly, the government fisheries department representatives arrived, unnervingly like an FBI or CIA clean up crew from a Hollywood movie. They wasted no time in killing the shark, slicing through its head with a small knife. They held little discussion, and seemed far more interested in getting the shark off the popular tourist beach quickly, rather than contemplating any prospect of saving it - perhaps it was beyond salvation. If I werenâ€™t there to photograph it, it would have been like it never happened. I watched as the blood pumped out of the animalâ€™s gills staining the sand red, and felt truly awful watching the hasty efforts to get the shark on the trailer and out of public view; the participants smiling gleefully, perhaps not at the sharks capture, but merely at the excitement of the moment. It was a rare opportunity to witness first hand the devastating and destructive nature of the drum-line system, and how it kills so efficiently.
Co n t e n t s
Pa g e 1 4 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
I am certain that this animal was not interested in eating people,
I hope that one day we can find alternative shark deterrents, or
and was merely trailing the Humpback Whale migration back
better yet, possess a greater understanding and respect for these
south for the summer.
majestic and vital apex predators, as they are, in their own habitat.
For a long time before that day, and even more so after it, I take
Until then I have to wake each day and look out across a sea
any opportunity I can to educate people on the unnecessary way in
of netting, lines, chains and buoys, hooks and baits â€“ these items
which we net our beaches, to let them know what really happens
frame our perfect view of the ocean, but are a chilling reminder
in the nets each day and how sad and fruitless the use of drum-
of mankindâ€™s willingness to step away from what is righteous, in
lines and nets are. Many are shocked to learn of the surprising
order to mask our fear with the illusion of control. I spend each
statistics and often change their views on the subject, but their
day wondering how many will be taken this summer.
removal from our oceans is still a long way off. Pa g e 1 5 | www.africandiver.com
Pa g e 1 6 | www.africandiver.com
is a 35 year old surf film-maker and photographer
who hails from the Gold Coast, Australia. His work stems from a lifetime spent in the water, exploring the possibilities and perils of the aquatic realm; capturing the visual pleasures that exist within. His major releases center around alternative surfing styles and techniques such as long-boarding, retro and old school surfing, as well as the lifestyles and people who embrace these styles as their own. Luke kindly donated the use of his images and the stories behind them to graphically demonstrate the violent methodology underlying drum-line shark control. Luke can be contacted at
l u ke s o re n s en i s @ g m a i l . co m
or visit his website
www.lukesorensen.com. For further information about shark nets and shark control in Eastern Australia visit
www.removesharknets.com Co n t e n t s
Pa g e 1 7 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
Photographed by Fiona Ayerst/Marine Photobank.
SHARK SPOTTERS written by: Paul Hunter
Pa g e 1 8 | www.africandiver.com
Beaches are popular recreation areas, as evidenced by the large crowds that they attract. Here throngs of people enjoy the weather and the waves. Photographed by Gerick Bergsma 2009/Marine Photobank
There is no doubt that unprovoked shark attacks are on the
Most experts agree that the reason for this increase has to do with
increase. According to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF),
the increase in human population and the growing popularity
compiled at the University of Florida, 79 unprovoked shark
of water related sports and recreational activities. The ever-
attacks occurred around the world in 2010, six of which were
increasing amount of time spent in the sea by humans increases
the odds of interaction between the two affected parties.
This is the highest number in a decade, amounting to an increase
There are, however, some new patterns emerging from data on
of 25 percent on 2009, when there were 63 attacks with 6 fatalities,
shark attacks. There has been an increase this year in a number
and 49 percent over 2008, which had 53 recorded attacks, four of
of areas not traditionally known for shark attacks; the most
them fatal. So far this year, there have been at least 61 recorded
surprising being the three attacks in Russia where areas of cold
attacks and 13 deaths.
water are experienced most of the time.
Pa g e 1 9 | www.africandiver.com
This could be due to warming of waters,
So the chances of the suspected shark
There is also a number of misconceptions
possibly associated with global warming
being caught after the attack are very
with regard to implemented shark nets.
which facilitates sharks expanding their
slim. Man is killing in excess of 73 million
The nets are not a complete barrier that
range farther north and south into waters
sharks a year which in itself is slaughter,
prevent sharks from reaching beaches as
that they normally do not go, and also
never mind culling.
they are not permanent and do not cover the entire length of the beach, they also
because warmer water attracts more people to enter the sea. These attacks are putting pressure on governments, tourism and last but not least the shark. Unfortunately each attack magnifies negatively on the shark species with the media playing a huge part in exploiting shark attacks by creating unnecessary frenzies. What can be done to prevent such predatory attacks on humans? Shark nets, drum lines or possible culling? Some
do not extend from the surface to the
in response to shark attacks or frequent
seabed. In fact, approximately 40% of the
shark sightings, particularly in areas that
sharks entangled occur on the beach side
surfers and swimmers are most prevalent.
because sharks are able to swim over and around the nets.
The purpose of these nets is to protect swimmers and surfers from dangerous
Australia has 51 beaches netted, South
and aggressive species (such as the Great
Africa has numerous beaches netted in
White Shark and Bull Shark). These nets
KwaZulu-Natal and Hong Kong has
are submerged below the water ’s surface,
32 beaches with permanent nets. These
about 200 metres from the shore. The
are barrier nets which enclose an entire
meshing is large, designed to catch the
section of the beach.
sharks and trap them until they struggle to their death, eventually drowning under
argue for “culling” the shark population and hunting down the suspected killer. Trying to kill the suspected shark is futile as you can’t identify the shark in any other way than kill it and open the stomach and hope to find evidence. Sharks are highly mobile and move great distances in a day.
Co n t e n t s
Shark nets were introduced in 1930’s
the weight of their own body.
A drumline is a device used to fish for potentially dangerous sharks that are large. The theory goes that by reducing
Over the last 80 years this method has
the number of these sharks in the vicinity
not been updated. The nets are out-dated
of the protected beach the possibility of a
and a barbaric method of protecting
shark attack is reduced. It is also stated
swimmers. These nets have a significant
that drumlines reduce the environmental
environmental cost, in terms of by-catch
impact as it is more selective in terms of
like whales, turtles, dolphins just to name
what is caught, taking fewer harmless
Pa g e 2 0 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
I am not sure what type of sharks these are- possibly one is a copper and the other a dusky. I found them lying outside the freezers at the sharks board in Natal- presumably having been taken dead from the nets. Photographed by Fiona Ayerst/Marine Photobank. Pa g e 2 1 | www.africandiver.com
Most drumlines are used in addition to shark nets.
drumline consists of a drum, with two lines attached to it, one line is attached to an anchor going to the seabed, the other has a baited shark hook. The drumlines are used to target the 3 sharks that are most dangerous to swimmers. Those sharks are the bull shark, tiger shark and great white shark. The mortality rate of shark caught on these drumlines is very high. There are other alternatives. For example shark enclosures, which provide an enclosed, unbroken full length net across the beach and where the size of the mesh is much smaller than shark nets, protecting marine life from getting tangled. Another example is the Shark Shield which emits an electronic wave that reaches up to 8 meters from the device. This wave is picked up by the shark and creates discomfort for the shark. The closer the shark comes to the device, the more unpleasant its experience is, therefore deterring the shark. Once the shark is out of range , there is no lingering or harmful after effects.
Co n t e n t s
Pa g e 2 2 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
These nets catch many animals and not only sharks but rays, dolphins and sea turtles amongst others. They are outdated and perhaps it is time for a change? This one is being viewed by a free diver that has stumbled across it. Photographed by Fiona Ayerst/Marine Photobank. Pa g e 2 3 | www.africandiver.com
The other alternative which seems more practical to me is that we find a way for man and shark to co-exist and the Shark spotters program in Cape Town is an elegant solution. The program was started in 2004 by Cape Town surfer Greg Bertish and at that time, shark spotting was done in a very rudimentary manner. Greg worked with the local car guards at the time to watch from the mountain and warn them via cell phone if any sharks were visible in the area. The program was then formalized and is now adopted by the Cape Town municipality. Greg also implemented the first flagpole signal system and the siren.This system has been a huge success locally and internationally. This program now employs 15 â€“ 20 spotters who are placed primarily along the False Bay coastline. Armed with polarized sunglasses and binoculars, the spotters scan the waters from an elevated platform. They can then radio other spotters on the beach who sound a siren and raise a white flag with a black shark, if a shark is spotted. When the siren sounds everybody is requested to leave the water and only return when the all clear is given.
Shark Spotters Co n t e n t s
Pa g e 2 4 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
Here are the different flags and description of each. Spotting conditions good, no shark seen. Spotting conditions poor, no shark seen. High Shark Alert. Either a shark has been seen in the last two hours, or there is an increased risk of a shark being in the area. Shark has been spotted â€“ siren will sound.
Leave water immediately. Daily data is also recorded on sea conditions, number of sharks seen and the number of people in the water.
There are unfortunately some limitations to this program which include the ability to detect sharks in poor water visibility, human error, operational hours and the ability to warn water users in the immediate area. Despite this the programme has been highly effective as a shark warning system. This programme has numerous advantages like job creation, skills development for disadvantaged groups, environmental education and awareness to the general public and importantly the collection of data. Shark Spotters Co n t e n t s
Pa g e 2 5 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
The shark spotters website has a number of shark safety tips that are included below
General Principles • If you are not fully aware of all of the risks of bathing in the ocean and are not prepared to take these risks, do not go into the ocean. • White sharks, like all predators, are more likely to identify a solitary individual as potential prey, so try to remain in a group. • White sharks are primarily visual hunters which would normally allow them to correctly distinguish you from their preferred prey species. Therefore, avoid entering the ocean when it is murky, during darkness or twilight hours when sharks rely on their other senses to locate potential prey rather than their vision. • When encountering a white shark remain as calm as you can. Assess the situation. Do not panic! Panicked, erratic movements are likely to increase the shark’s curiosity, draw it closer to you and possibly send signals similar to an injured or distressed prey. Use any equipment (camera, surfboard, etc.) you may be carrying to create a barrier between yourself and the shark. • If you see a shark, calmly alert other ocean users around you. Remain in or create a group, and leave the water in a calm and swift, but smooth, manner. Alert the lifeguards or shark spotters.
Scuba divers • If you encounter a white shark while scuba diving stay motionless on the bottom until the shark has satisfied its curiosity and moves on. It appears that the water column is the most dangerous place to be and surfacing quickly in close proximity to a great white could put you in danger. If in a group, stick together! On a shore dive swim back to the land by hugging the reef and using your compass or natural contour lines for navigation. If on a boat dive, surface as a group, back to back.
Free divers and snorkelers • Free divers and snorkelers are most vulnerable when on the surface or when ascending from a dive. So only dive when the water is clear enough to see the bottom and be vigilant. • In the Western Cape, remain within the confines of the kelp bed whenever possible. White sharks are unlikely to enter the dense kelp growth.
Spearfishermen • Understand that spear fishing off the South African coast is a highrisk activity when it comes to white sharks. To decrease the risk, don’t dive and shoot fish close to white shark hotspots, such as Dyer or Seal Island. • Only shoot fish in good visibility so that you can see an approaching shark from a distance and take evasive action by surrendering your fish. • If diving from the shore keep your fish on a long stringer or on a buoy, but ideally dive with boat cover so that wounded or dead fish can be removed from the water quickly.
Pa g e 2 6 | www.africandiver.com
Surfers and bodyboarders
• Preferably use surfing beaches where shark spotters and trained lifeguards are stationed.
This program has numerous advantages however the most important advantage is the reduction in the risk of a shark
• Surf during the hours that the shark spotters and lifeguards are on duty.
attack and all the negatives aspects that go with it. Man and
• Familiarise yourself with the shark spotters protocols and the different colour flags that are used.
• Take the time to speak to the shark spotters and lifeguards before entering the water and ask them if there have been recent sightings in the area. • Avoid surfing when the water is too murky for shark spotters to be effective – when visibility is poor the black flag will be flown.
shark need to co-exist and this could be the solution for the
I would like to close this article with a paragragh from a Mr George Burgess, shark researcher and curator of the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History People seem to have forgotten the basic biological facts
• Don’t surf in areas where bait and game fish are running, where seals are present or seabirds are diving. Sightings of dolphins or porpoises do not indicate the absence of sharks.
with respect to humans and sharks. “When we enter the
• Consider wearing a personal shark shield.
environment,” Burgess observes. “We are terrestrial animals.
sea, we need to understand that we are visiting a foreign Our evolution occurred on land. We don’t have gills. We
Surf skiers and kayakers
• Avoid paddling in areas known to be frequented by white sharks, such as near seal colonies and in areas where they congregate inshore in the summer months. • When approached by a white shark stop paddling and sit still. It is the movement of the kayak that the shark is the most interested in.
can’t swim very well, and as such every time we enter the sea it is a wilderness experience for us. One of the mistaken impressions that we as humans have is that we are owed the right to be safe 100 percent of the time wherever we go in the world. That’s a pretty haughty view that humans have-- that we should be able to control every phase of the world we live
• Use a large kayak, as it seems that the bigger the craft the less likely a white shark is to venture an investigatory bite.
in. In the sea we should accept a certain amount of risk, and
• Paddle in groups.
smart. But any way you look at it, when you enter the sea it
• Consider carrying a personal shark shield on your kayak or surfski. Co n t e n t s
it is incumbent upon us to reduce the chances of risk by being is a wilderness experience.”
Pa g e 2 7 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
This shark died in the anti-shark nets off the beach front. It is being taken in by employees of the Natal Sharks Board, an organization that is paid to maintain the nets. Many unfortunate animals become entangled and die in the nets each year- including dolphins and sea turtles. Photographed by Fiona Ayerst/Marine Photobank. Pa g e 2 8 | www.africandiver.com
Photographed by Evert Nel
In our next issue how to treat a shark bite Pa g e 2 9 | www.africandiver.com
Yoga & Freediving
Pa g e 3 0 | www.africandiver.com
I saw no shadow on the sea No voices called to me My life was free
Article by: Helen Weaver Images by: Cormac McCreesh Pa g e 3 1 | www.africandiver.com
Yoga is an ancient practice of linking the body with the mind through a series of physical poses, using your breath to calm and centre your mind, bringing you into the present moment. Incorporated into our daily life, it is used as a means of balancing the body, mind and emotions. The joining of these two components that are so very closely linked to ourselves… body and mind… is breath. Breath being something that is very specifically dwelled upon, pondered, discussed and debated, in the act of freediving. An interesting fact is that dolphins are “conscious breathers” – if they were to take their breath for granted… they would die. This is what a freediver aspires to do. Become a total conscious breather, and along with it – the joy and gratitude that goes along with diving deep and re-emerging to the surface. Another important aspect of yoga is to ultimately face yourself on the yoga mat. To become conscious is to take a lot of responsibility for our actions, our lives. We can no longer make excuses of not knowing and not thinking. To know your mind, to understand your body – is to ask someone to take a moment and consider… themselves... their limitations… their potential… and their actual reality. Not someone else’s and not your body as it was last year or last decade.
Co n t e n t s
This is what a freediver aspires to do. Become a total conscious breather, and along with it – the joy and gratitude that goes along with diving deep and re-emerging to the surface. Pa g e 3 2 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
The here and now. The present. Again, this is an element that is paramount in the attempts to freedive. With the practice of linking body with mind with the practice of breathwork (pranayama) and realising the present moment through conscious practice, we are able to repeat the very tools that we need to take with us on successful dives. It is therefore valid to say that freediving is
discipline of yoga. Freediving is an aquatic sport, considered an extreme one, in which divers attempt to reach great depths unassisted by breathing apparatus. Its simple really, dive as deep as you can, on one breath of air. Jacques from
Jacques Mayol’s efforts enriched the world of freediving by including the entire philosophy, namely of yoga. Using so many techniques from yoga, freediving has actually been termed “Aquatic Yoga”. Yoga and freediving are integral and complementary. Techniques are applied to breathing and breath-hold and for training the diaphragm. And finally, the obvious techniques of achieving the yoga poses are used to increase the diver’s flexibility and strength training. Yoga is also invaluable in mental training for breath hold diving, specifically in the areas of sensory withdrawal and meditation. You need to recognize the power of your mind, and then respect that power. The Zen of freediving is the extreme shift of the consciousness of the freediver into the “now”. He exists purely in the moment in response to his sensations and achieves the goal of meditation in motion.
“The Big Blue”, very famously stated that
your desire to control, and you become
Elements of yoga are within and throughout the dive. A really great training tool that is “dry” for one attempting to train as a freediver, to take out your yoga mat and immerse yourself on it and in the practice of yoga, one can strengthen, lengthen and
soft, and silent.
focus on core elements for that specific dive.
the art of holding your breath is to become the act of non-breathing. To let this vital piece of information go (that you are no longer breathing), you may truly let go of
Pa g e 3 3 | www.africandiver.com
The freediver chooses to return to the surface. Sympbolically choosing to live, to breathe life in again. Never underestimate the power of intention.
What we choose
to do, again and again, translates into our lives.
We become our intention.
We choose to live. Again and again. But even in fairytales, there are monsters and evil step-mothers and witches with tempting treats. Life is as hard as it is easy. Nothing is perfect and I am not saying that freediving is perfect, although it is.
neither is yoga, although it is.
It can show you perfection in a moment, stripping away everything and show you your soul ...
It can show you perfection in a moment, stripping away everything and show you your soul. But it can also be difficult and frustrating and soul destroying.
day is a new day. Recognizing this is the power. They say the scuba diver dives into the ocean, the freediver dives into himself. And that is where the truth lies. We dive deep into ourselves, and sometimes what we bring up comes from the scary, dark parts of ourselves. But we have the courage to go back and dive again, confronting the hidden depths.
Co n t e n t s
Pa g e 3 4 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
The cessation of breath slows your body, quiets your mind and controls your thoughts. The cessation of breath is your choice. The moment caught in between the inhalation and exhalation of your breath is called Khumbaka. In India they told me this was the perfect moment. Nothing matters but this moment. Nothing matters but what you are doing here and now. Perfect.
Co n t e n t s
Pa g e 3 5 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.â€? - Maya Angelou Pa g e 3 6 | www.africandiver.com
Health and Safety
Breathless Desperation The story behind diving with asthma
Pa g e 3 7 | www.africandiver.com
By Noranne Dovey
When I was 22 years old I developed a serious lung infection resulting from flu. The complications from this would leave me with lung damage (half of one lung is dysfunctional) and chronic asthma. Asthma is a disease that causes the narrowing of the breathing tubes (bronchi) and can be brought on by many factors.
bronchial narrowing in Asthma has two effects: one is the decrease in the volume of air that can be moved in and out of the lungs and the second is reduced airway diameter which could cause the trapping of gas in the lungs during ascent. As you can image this could have severe consequences for a diver.
Diving for asthma sufferers is the subject of much debate worldwide and physicians hold differing viewpoints on the matter. In the past, any history or symptom of asthma was considered a definitive â€œNOâ€? for diving. Recently however, this perception has begun to change and many doctors now accept that asthma does not prevent asthmatics from diving. However, anyone with a history of asthma should be evaluated by a specialist doctor to determine his or her fitness to dive. Since developing asthma, I have been in and out of hospital more times than I care to remember. Iâ€™ve had two attacks that were so severe that my heart stopped beating. On the first of these occasions I was clinically dead before they managed to resuscitate me; which took 10 minutes and adrenalin injections directly into my heart.
Pa g e 3 8 | www.africandiver.com
The second major attack was during my
So asthma and its severity is an old
fourth month of pregnancy and there was
friend of mine. I take every precaution
great concern for the health of my unborn
to avert the onset of an attack, as I know
child due to the aggressive nature of the
the life threatening issues surrounding
lifesaving medication they were forced to
use. I’ve spent almost two decades on An attack of this magnitude left me feeling like I was breathing through a pinprick sized hole in my throat and sheer panic is the only word to describe my mental state. I couldn’t speak nor ask the nurses to hurry up as I felt life ebbing from me. The
various preventative medication and am currently using Singulair tablets: a medication used daily to prevent shortness of breath and decrease asthma attacks. It’s used before exercise; it also helps prevent the number of times you need to use your rescue inhaler.
greater the panic, the worse it became. But
I also use Symbicort: a long acting beta-
trying to logically reason with myself at
agonist and a Seritide Accuhaler, which
that moment was utterly fruitless. At first
I use every day, twice a day. These are
I couldn’t hear anymore, then my vision
anti-inflammatories and help keep me
became blurred and lastly everything went
free of symptoms.
black as I slipped into unconsciousness. I also use Bronchodilators (inhalers) Unconsciousness leads to death if help
and cortizone medication daily. Yet even
does not come soon enough, but I’ve been
this does not stop me from having severe
lucky enough to wake up in the high care
asthma attacks from time to time. The
unit each time.
attacks are usually related to stress or
Co n t e n t s
illnesses like pneumonia or bronchitis.
Pa g e 3 9 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
I have always dreamed of diving; the grace, freedom and unity with the ocean and its life. It seemed like entering a different world, one I’d only ever seen on TV. But, for as long as I can remember, I’ve always believed that asthma is an absolute contraindication to diving. I gave up my dream of diving and resigned myself to seeing diving as something I’d always admire from afar. So, I was surprised when I first met Paul and started doing research on the subject to discover that there were a lot more divers with asthma than I could have imagined. I discovered that the UK diving community has a more relaxed mindset with regard to asthma and diving while on the other hand Australia is very strict. I eventually decided against the advice of some, and with the encouragement of others to go and see a lung specialist in Morningside Sandton. I made an appointment and went apprehensively to the consultation. I was really skeptical about the outcome, as the years of battling to breathe would surely preclude me from partaking in a sport, which depends mainly on breathing. After a lengthy and indepth conversation with the Doctor & completing a series of lung function tests, screening spirometry and scrutinizing medical history questions, I got an unexpected “all-clear” and a clearance certificate to dive. Pa g e 4 0 | www.africandiver.com
One of the big factors that worked greatly in my favour was
There are however a few precautions that I need to adhere to.
that my asthma was under control: I know my body well and
If I ever feel congested or tight chested, have any sort of
know the symptoms and the triggers that affect me. In short, I
wheezing or battle with asthma (even lightly) - NO DIVING!
am able to recognise when I am leading up to an asthma attack
I also have medication that helps open my lungs and I take
and can recognise when I have one. I also know it’s not to be
a steroid (Pulmison) which I take 3 times per day for about
taken lightly and understand well that if I don’t adhere to doctor ’s orders I am playing with my life. I was elated with the good news and immediately phoned Paul who had been as concerned as I was. I promptly enrolled in an open water dive course and continued to do the advanced course directly afterwards. I was thrilled beyond words, as I never really imagined this to become a reality. From the moment I donned the gear and put my head under the water, I knew in a
three days before planning to dive and for the duration of the diving. Furthermore I continue my daily chronic medication as prescribed to prevent and control the disease I have. I thought I’d be nervous about the entire diving experience, but to my surprise, I took to it like a fish. It felt perfectly normal. I had no feelings of restricted breathing or suffocation or claustrophobia. I was perfectly at ease. Breathing underwater
heartbeat that this was the right thing for me. I felt no fear only
seemed natural. The equipment felt like I was born to wear it
excitement. I was eager to get the training out of the way and
and to date I have not had a single problem with asthma. Not
the real diving in the sea to start. Asthma was the last thing on
even on deep or challenging dives such as when fighting a
strong current that would leave anyone slightly winded.
At first, I breathed too quickly; using my air too fast and this
Other than the confidence inspired by the clearance from
resulted in headaches. After one of the pool sessions I had an
my doctor, I credit my comfort and confidence to the
intense discussion with my dive instructor who suggested an
excellent dive centre where I received my training.
additional session just to calmly sit on the bottom of the pool
instructors were aware of my condition and although I
and concentrate solely on breathing in a relaxed fashion. What a difference it made! With the correct breathing technique and a newly acquired sense of calm, the headaches dissipated and I really started mastering the art of scuba diving. By the time I did my first sea dive I could last as long on a tank of air as any of the other divers. Co n t e n t s
was treated no differently from the other students, I had the peace of mind that if something should go awry, I was in confident hands. These days, along with my experienced dive buddy Paul, I pursue diving as often as possible. It is an incredible sport, has been an amazing journey and something that I’ve grown very passionate about. Pa g e 4 1 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
Asthma is a disease and cannot be cured but with the right advice and medication it can be controlled and diving may not be offlimits. I would strongly advise anyone thinking of taking up this sport to go to an accredited, experienced pulmonary physician or a diving doctor for expert counseling and evaluation and then make an informed decision based on your fitness in order to dive.
Co n t e n t s
Pa g e 4 2 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
WHO WAS THE FIRST TO DIVE The Coopers Light Wreck
Words and photos by Bryan Hart Pa g e 4 3 | www.africandiver.com
WHO WAS THE FIRST TO DIVE the Coopers Light Wreck? The first time I dived the Coopers Light wreck was on the 21 July 1990. It was my sixth sea dive and I was fourteen years old. The dive was a “typical dive on Coopers” – strong current, 5m visibility, two hours to hook onto the wreck and then a short 22 minutes exploring the wreck. When I reflect on this dive, I recall asking my father how this wreck had come to be and what the name of the ship was. It intrigued me that no one knew anything about the ship and that so little was known about it. The 1990’s was a time when there were no GPS’s to assist in locating the wreck (skippers used land marks and an echo sounder) and divers were limited by dive tables and air. The Durban basin had been covered with silt from the devastating floods caused by Cyclone Domoina in 1984. The silt from the flooding reduced visibility and overall sea life off the Durban dive sites and as a result, very few people actually dived off Durban.
MYSTERY OF COOPERS: The wreck is situated off the Coopers Light House on the Bluff of Durban – hence the name Coopers Light Wreck. The fact that she lies perpendicular to strong prevailing currents means that most of the super-structure amid ships has been destroyed leaving only the bow and the stern intact. However, at the stern, there is a structure resembling a “harpoon gun”. Pa g e 4 4 | www.africandiver.com
This structure has led many of the Durban diving community
Churchill and being used by the Natal Sharks Board. This vessel
to believe this was a whaling vessel. However, if the vessel
was decommissioned and scuttled off the Bluff, Durban, in
were a whaler, the harpoon gun assembly would be on the
November 1932 as confirmed by reports in the Natal Mercury.
bow and not at the stern. The movie “Blue Water White Death” documented whaling activity off Durban. The documentary
Unfortunately the single propeller of Coopers proved once
showed that whales were towed to Durban by whaling vessels
again to be factor that prevented a positive match taking place
after being harpooned offshore. The whales were secured to
... the UMZIMVUBI had twin screws!
the whaling vessel by rope over the bollards situated on the gunwale of the vessel. On recent dives on the wreck, bollards
The site of the wreck is roughly in line with the ship graveyard
have been located at the bow and stern. This could support
comprising the EMMA, KATE, ISTAR, GARTHFORCE and the
the fact that this was indeed part of the whaling fleet.
UMZIMVUBU. These wrecks have all been scuttled but lie in 50 to 60 metres of water.
There have been many researchers that have identified vessels of similar dimensions to Coopers in the various archives
It is therefore possible that this vessel was towed out and
pertaining to maritime history off Durban. Unfortunately any
scuttled, but not in the designated graveyard situated in
hope of revealing the identity of Coopers has been dashed
deeper waters. There is no information or indication from the
on more than one occasion by the fact that all the vessels
dives undertaken that suggest that this vessel was wrecked.
identified all had twin propeller ’s as opposed to the single
It is most likely then that this vessel was scuttled after being
propeller of Coopers.
decommissioned from the whaling fleet, or by its owners after World War Two.
On a recent trip to Port St John’s for the 2011 Sardine Run, I had the opportunity to meet with John Costello who has researched and documented much of the maritime history off the Wild Coast and in particular Port St John’s. I met with John in order to discuss the mystery of the Coopers light wreck and I was excited to learn about the coaster named the UMZIMVUBU. This coaster was used to carry supplies and mail between the Port of Durban and Port St John’s and had an amazing history, carrying the likes of Winston
Co n t e n t s
Pa g e 4 5 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
Co n t e n t s
Pa g e 4 6 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
WRECK DESCRIPTION – what we know and can see on a dive: The vessel is 76 metres long and is 10.5 metre wide. She sits upright on the sand, perpendicular to the shore in 30 metres of water. The vessel is constructed from iron and used steam power (the ship has boilers) to turn a single propeller. The decks of the bow and the stern sit at 24 metres. The bow is mostly intact with an intense concentration of fish life and coral. At the bow there is “posse” of very large and very well fed lion fish that lie in a sheltered section – feeding ad lib on the schools of fish that hover around the bow. Another interesting resident of the bow is the Harlequin Goldie (Pseudanthias connelli). Amid ships, the wreck opens up and is home to large schools of daga salmon and baardman - the size of the daga found here are enough of an incentive for fishermen to risk an anchor foul. Swimming further through the wreck you come to the boilers which stand proud and exposed. The starboard boilers are covered in bright orange sun corals and there are swarms of goldies covering this section of the wreck. Above the goldies are clouds of silver bait fish, which against the red and orange colours of the coral and the goldies, create amazing contrasts. Taking time to look inside the various cracks and holes will reveal cleaner shrimps that go about cleaning the local residents of the wreck.
Pa g e 4 7 | www.africandiver.com
After the boilers, the large propeller and rudder are dominant features of the super-structure left at the stern. The rudder mechanism protrudes through the deck of the stern and resembles a harpoon gun.
Bat fish and goldies congregate around the
steering mechanism but the fish life is not as intense as at the bow. In comparison to the bow, the stern is comparatively sparse in terms of corals. The stern has many holes where all the vessels portholes have been removed. Interestingly, the single propeller has a chip taken out one of the blades which was done to determine if it was brass and therefore worth salvaging. And that is where the story of Coopers would have ended - an amazing wreck with awesome fish life and arguably one of the best dives in Kwa Zulu Natal on its day. That is until a recent dive on Coopers, admittedly on a very rich mix of Nitrox, prompted the question, “who was the first to dive this wreck and how did they know that it was here?” Consultation with my father Neville Hart as well as Paul Smit from the Durban Undersea Club, led me to Graham Charter and Dr Allen Connel. I interviewed both Allen and Graham and was amazed by their stories and by the history that literally “went down” on Coopers Light wreck. Graham Charter is a retired SAPs reservist diver and former CEO of the Natal Sharks Board.
Pa g e 4 8 | www.africandiver.com
I contacted Graham and asked him if he was aware of who the
During this dive a few anchors were recovered but were of
first person to dive Coopers was and how divers came to know
little importance as exploring the wreck was absorbing. Whilst
of this wreck. This is Grahams response:
investigating the propeller I was able to take photographs of vast
“Circa 1974 the late Darrol Smith, reservist officer in command of the SAP Reserve Diving Unit Port Natal at the time, was approached by members of the Durban Ski Boat Club (DSBC) to organise a dive
and dense shoals of salmon that resembled an unpainted galvanised garage door. After the dive we were still none the wiser as to the identification of the wreck.
on a reef which was situated off the Bluff in approximately 100 feet of water.
Adamant that the wreck be identified, a formal police dive involving 5 teams of 2 divers each with a specific objective in mind
The object of the dive was to recover anchors that had over many
was organised. During this dive the beam, length, absence of any
years been snagged and subsequently lost on this (according to the
form of identification were documented and samples of the material
echo sounders of the time) compact but rugged reef structure. At the
that the prop was manufactured from were obtained.
monthly reserve divers meeting Darrol requested volunteers to dive on the reef over a weekend. By courtesy of the DSBC members who supplied the ski boat, approximately four divers were positioned on the reef and had a successful dive recovering several anchors. To their
The 5th team documented an overview and general description of the wreck. Notwithstanding the above information and with
amazement ‘the reef’ was in fact a steel hulled vessel which had been
reference to records of ship wrecks in the area from 1552 - 1977,
stripped (apart from a few portholes which were the object of a later
we were still unable to identify the wreck. Fish on the wreck were a
dive that resulted in loss of life) and perhaps scuttled at this location.
target for ski boat fishermen and in later years due to the allocation
Thus the Cooper Light Wreck, was discovered and it’s exact location
of DUC ski boat numbers it became a popular dive location.
was known only to a few of the DSBC members and the police divers. As a result of growing interest and the need to recover the lost anchors, Darrol requested further volunteers and another dive was arranged. My first dive on the wreck, with little current and excellent water visibility, was a memorable experience.
Notwithstanding current discussions with retired members of the Police Reserve Diving Unit such as John Dench, Roy Reed, Ian van Rooyen, Eric Roest, Eric Strydom, Roger Cullen and Godfrey Aver all of whom have repeatedly dived on the wreck, we are still unaware of the events resulting in the wreck of the Coopers Light.
Co n t e n t s
Pa g e 4 9 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
This collaboration between ski boat fishermen and scuba divers paved the way for scuba diving in Kwa Zulu Natal. The Ski Boat Clubs operated and controlled launch sites along the Kwa Zulu Natal Coast. Divers, scuba and spear fishermen, were not deemed fit to launch boats in these areas and as such were not given permission to operate boats, and therefore access the deep sea reefs. In this way, the reefs and wrecks of Durban, Sodwana Bay and Aliwal Shoal only become accessible to divers in the 1980. “ I followed up my interview with Graham Charter with that of Dr Allen Connel who discovered the Harlequin Goldie (Pseudanthias connelli). I asked Allan to describe the events leading to the discovery and naming of the Harlequin Goldie: “According to my logbook, Graham is correct, Darroll and others had been diving the Cooper Light wreck for some time before I did. I first dived it on 29 July 1979, and noted interesting goldies and a blue “wrasse”- It looked blue at that depth without a torch. On my second dive, two days later, we found a big party of DUC divers there, and Hubert Schiemann and Ricky Schick on another boat. Phil Heemstra asked me to collect goldies for him, so I built a tiny little spear gun, with a detachable spear-head, made from a small hypodermic needle with a piece of fishing wire pulled through the needle and bent back from the tip to make a little barb.
Co n t e n t s
Pa g e 5 0 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
A month later I dived there with Hubert Schiemann, and tried out my gun for the first time. Despite some teething troubles, I managed to collect two species of goldie and a single male of the “blue wrasse”, which of course revealed itself to be a beautiful pink and chocolatecoloured fish when brought to the surface. I packed these off to Phil Heemstra with a note asking about the strange blue, now pink and chocolate “wrasse”. Later, Margaret Smith teased Phil about the fish, telling me how a normally calm and controlled Phil Heemstra burst into her office with the parcel, hugely excited because the fish was not a wrasse, but a goldie, and new to science. With a calming smile, Margaret suggested he phone me to get assurance that there were more specimens where that one came from! Fortunately they are both striking, and common on the wreck. I collected another 2 males and a female on a dive soon after. In April 1980 Phil visited Durban on a collecting trip and we took him for a dive on the wreck, where I shot another male for the JLB Smith Institute collection. That gave even a cautious ichthyologist like Phil enough specimens to go ahead and describe the species.”
“...Coopers Light wreck was where the Harlequin Goldie was discovered and made known to science.”
This interview with Allen confirmed Darroll Smith to be the first to dive this wreck and also confirmed that Coopers Light wreck was where the Harlequin Goldie was discovered and made known to science.
Pa g e 5 1 | www.africandiver.com
Co n t e n t s
Pa g e 5 2 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
These days, a typical dive on Coopers is somewhat different to what it was 20 years ago. The visibility and general condition of the
However, the fact that Coopers is, like all vessels a she, means that no dive on her is straightforward!
reefs and wrecks seem to improve year on year. To me, part of the allure of diving on this wreck is being able to GPS and fish finders allow skippers to locate the wreck with
spend 30 minutes with a beautiful woman whose name we still donâ€™t
relative ease. Divers now have Nitrox and dive computers that
know, but, who has in her own way, played an integral part in scuba
facilitate extended bottom times on the wreck. Furthermore, the
diving in Kwa Zulu Natal. In this way, Coopers Light is arguably
forecast algorithms of Windfinder and Wind guru enable divers and
one of the best dives on the East Coast of South Africa.
fishermen alike to plan their visits to the wreck. Pa g e 5 3 | www.africandiver.com
Give a mother hope for a safer future by investing in a Christopher Bartlett print Christopher Bartlett is a regular contributor to African Diver Magazine and a specialist on dive and safari related travel in Tanzania. As a committed and involved conservationist, Christopher gives 10% of his freelance earnings to charity. His latest fundraising effort is for the Safe Motherhood Project in Tanzania. To raise money he has donated images of the community, which he has made available for sale such that once the costs of printing and posting are covered 50 Euros per print can be donated to the project. These images can be seen on Christopher â€™s website. Pa g e 5 4 | www.africandiver.com
Click here to view gallery Contents
T h e M a t e r n i t y Wa i t i n g H o m e
In 2010 the construction of a Maternity Waiting Home, funded by a German charity, started with the objective of welcoming women from 35 weeks onwards and providing facilities for a safe birth close to the operating theatre and a doctor should complications arise. Today the building is almost finished, but money is
Th e S a fe M o t h e r h o o d Pro j e c t Endulen, Ngorongoro Conser vation Area, Tanzania
Tanzania is a low-income sub-Saharan African country with a population of about 40 million. The latest estimate of the maternal mortality rate in Tanzania is 449 women per 100,000 births. The life-time risk for a woman to die as a result of pregnancy-related causes is 1 in 24, most commonly from postpartum haemorrhage. In remote areas like the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, despite being a UNESCO World Heritage site, this is considerably higher. Most people live in traditionally built huts, expectant mothers give birth at home and, by the time labour starts, they are too far away to walk to the
needed to employ traditional birthing attendants, skilled birthing attendants, and to provide transport for the expectant mothers to the home, and to return them to their village afterwards. The hospitalâ€™s working vehicles are all used for field clinics, so another dedicated vehicle is needed. It could also be used to fetch mothers having difficulties during a home birth.
How you can help ? The hospital was given a Landcruiser, but this needs 6,500 euros or 9,000 dollars of repairs to make it reliably operational again. The purpose of the gallery is to raise money for the Maternity Waiting Home and its vehicle in order to help reduce maternal mortality
amongst the local population. The images were shot
Endulen hospital is the only hospital in the 8,300 square kilometre
for free. They are priced so that once printing and
Ngorongoro Conservation Area and services a catchment population of 72,000 people, mainly Maasai and some Wairaqw and Barabaiq. Pa g e 5 5 | www.africandiver.com
at Christopherâ€™s expense and he has donated them postage costs have been deducted, each sale will provide 50 euros.
To make a donation, Please click here
For more information on the hospital and the home Click here - www.endulen.de/en
Photographed by Allen Walker Pa g e 5 6 | www.africandiver.com
Sh a r k
Photography in South Africa By Allen Walker
Pa g e 5 7 | www.africandiver.com
Underwater photography is in itself a very difficult skill to master successfully; trust me, I am still trying. However one of the subjects I love most to photograph are our stunning apex predators, the shark. Nothing like spicing up an already challenging art! In this article all I would like to do is give an introduction to photographing sharks, the mindset required, information on
“In this article all I would like to do is give an introduction to photographing sharks, the mindset required, information on the subject, safety, equipment and some styles/techniques to try.”
the subject, safety, equipment and some styles/techniques to try. Our South African waters are not the easiest to photograph in and as a photographer you have to rise to this challenge to be able to compete against the best in the world who have access to crystal clear waters with a range of subject matter. For the uninitiated some of the likely conditions to be experienced diving in South Africa are: strong currents that may vary in direction and intensity depending on depth, poor visibility owing to upwelling of plankton and nutrient rich water and river water run-off in the rainy season. In general too, there’s always particulate in our water, which greatly increases the risk of backscatter ruining a perfect image. Our average visibility is some 8 to 10 metres, although there are many days where 20 or more metres may be experienced. Yet for all the challenges, we have a serious ace up our sleeves - South Africa must, in my opinion, be one of the best locations in the world to photograph sharks. Pa g e 5 8 | www.africandiver.com
Co n t e n t s
Pa g e 5 9 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
The Mindset required
To photograph sharks requires an informed and conscious decision; you need to understand and accept the possible outcomes of your actions, not that I am saying this is a bad thing, but rather to emphasise that you will be diving and photographing sharks in their environment. You can never allow yourself to be lulled into a false sense of security and just do what ever you want, there are rules - don’t break them! If you do break them you will only end up giving sharks a bad name and at this point in time it is the last thing sharks need. You need to be alert, focused, mentally and visually aware of your surroundings at all times; you are after all in one of the largest game parks with one of the most feared apex predators (or so we believe)! Ok, back to the photography part: time, time, time. You need to put in the hours to get the desired results or alternately get offered a job doing it permanently. It’s going to take time; time for you to get comfortable, understand the shark’s behaviour, understand the conditions and how to use them to your advantage and to simplify your images – remember there will be 30 to 40 (sometimes more) blacktip sharks around you and the bait drum and divers and you need to simplify your images. Don’t get disheartened, always smile and look for the opportunity, and make sure you’re having fun in your free time. Be considerate; there are other divers and you need to be mindful of them. It’s not going just happen for you in ten minutes.
Co n t e n t s
Pa g e 6 0 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
Sharks have always been considered mindless killers; images of fear, ruthless killing and horror seem to light up in people’s eyes when the word “Shark” is uttered. This is mainly fuelled by urban legend, movies, exaggeration and more importantly our own lack of knowledge about them, their behaviors, social structures, and the few species of shark that may have a tendency to attack . In most cases, these attacks can be related straight back to our own foolish behaviors where we have placed ourselves in situations or places where sharks expect to find food. These situations tend to result in attacks due to mistaken identity.
Photographers and scientists, even normal scuba divers, are now daring to venture into the sharks’ domain without heavy metal cages and in doing so we are gradually replacing fear with respect and knowledge; the way it should have been years ago. As a subject, the shark is not easy to photograph in its natural environment. They are often shy and keep a good distance between themselves and scuba divers. Free divers have a greater chance of getting good close encounters than scuba divers. This does not mean that it is not possible though. Like anything in life, if the subject is given enough time to get used to you in its environment, curiosity will prevail and slowly but surely it will come and investigate. So all you need is patience.
More concerning though is our continual destruction of their well-balanced eco-systems. This, in my opinion, has lead to far more attacks than anything else. In my opinion, sharks are not just mindless eating machines. They are curious, yes, and sometimes even testing, but definitely not mindless. Thank goodness a more positive message is slowly but surely getting across to people, this is
The alternate is to lure your subject closer through baited diving. Yes there are numerous debates regarding this subject and this article is not to debate that. As a photographer it has been the only way to see certain sharks in the ocean that would generally never be seen. I am just grateful for the opportunities given to me to be able to photograph sharks and in my way promote the positive image of sharks and try stopping the mindless killing of our sea’s apex predators.
being achieved by us learning more about them. I have been photographing sharks almost exclusively for the past year, sometimes for five days in a row.
Pa g e 6 1 | www.africandiver.com
Their very existence now hangs in a balance due to human demand and greed.
Positioning errors Above left: photographer/diver positioned down-current from the bait which the shark is following. Top right: photographer doing surface work from the boat positioned down-current from the shark which has followed the bait to on top of the cameraâ€™s dome port. Bottom left: photographer has allowed his camera rig to dangle and become an attraction for the shark. Note also that the photographer is inappropriately dressed.
Pa g e 6 2 | www.africandiver.com
Equipment. The image you want to get will normally determine the type of equipment you will use.
These two setups allow me a great versatility and options galore. The 5D Mark 11 allows the subject to get right up in front of the camera without cropping any of the sharks at
In my opinion photographing sharks requires a wide-angle setup. I use 2 camera’s with a combination of lenses for my shark photography namely, Canon 5D Mark 11 and a Canon 7D. I use both Hugyfot and Ikelite Housings.
150mm focal point, especially with the 2 fish eye lenses. This allows for some stunning imagery and allows me to create different photographs.
Canon 5D Mark 11: • Full frame camera at 21Mb • Use of very fast focusing EF IS USM lenses • Live View HD video • WIDE angle at it’s widest and closest • Vast ISO Range of 100-6400
Lenses for 5D Mark 11: • 15mm Fish Eye Lens • 8 – 15mm Fish Eye Lens • 16 – 35mm EF IS USM
This setup is also perfect for over-under shots and surface
• APS – C 1.6 Cropped Sensor 18Mb
work. It does, however, has its limitations when it comes to
• 8.9 Frames per second
speed - only firing at 3 frames per second. But what it loses
• Full HD video at 30p (29.97 fps)
in speed the 5D makes up for in lens focal speed and image
• Cross-type 19-point AF system with AI Servo II AF subject
tracking and user-selectable AF area selection (very cool)
Lenses I use for 7D: • 10 – 22mm EF-S F3.5 to F4.5 USM
The 16 – 35mm lens is great for in-water work and it allows for excellent quality photographs even when zoomed to 35mm. This high quality lens is super fast and the lens quality
A Go Pro camera is always a good little additive in any photographer’s arsenal Co n t e n t s
is phenomenal! A must have in any underwater photographers collection of glass. Pa g e 6 3 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
Safe diving practise When it comes to capturing a specific frame, with a fast moving subject, nothing I have used thus far (in my affordability
SHARK DIVING HAS RULES. THEY SHOULD BE FOLLOWED.
range) beats the 7D. There is one catch though: use a decent
• Make sure you are fully briefed and understand exactly what is going
lens and memory card. The lens and the memory card need
to happen on the dive. Good operators will always give you a full
to match the performance of the camera. If you cannot afford
shark dive briefing prior to the dive.
the lens, don’t buy the camera, save some more and buy the perfect setup. The reason for my statement is simple, when it comes to underwater photography it is not just a camera you are buying or a lens, it is all the components required to house it! This is an expensive exercise and not all of us can afford to make mistakes or buy twice.
Co n t e n t s
• It is always good to first take the time to watch behavior and then setup your shot accordingly • Expect the unexpected and always be alert. • Never have lots of loose dangling objects around, especially if they are “flashy” and keep you camera close to you. • Never get yourself and the bait in the same place and time; this is not a good idea!
Pa g e 6 4 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
Conceptualisation and planning
Modern technology has taken underwater photography leaps and bounds ahead of where it was just 5 years ago. The quest for a better, more intriguing, fascinating and phenomenal photograph has become almost an obsession.
To provide more they need to push the boundaries, sometimes to
It is no longer good enough to just have a well exposed and lit picture of a shark. People want more, photographers want
there are limitations. My suggestion is, get a specialist facilitator
recognition, and in order to get this they need to provide more.
that is as controlled as possible.
Pa g e 6 5 | www.africandiver.com
the extent that it has now bordering the unacceptable. Be careful of pushing too far when it comes to shark photography, to assist you to get the photograph you want in an environment
Different styles and some settings and tips for each
Over & Under • You would generally require calm surface conditions to be able to get any decent over/under photographs. • Sharks can easily be brought into the frame on a shark dive by getting an assistant to throw some bait between you and the above water subject or skyline you are trying to capture. • You would require an 8” Dome port or more for this. Dome ports with smaller dimensions can be used but they require much more accuracy and extremely calm conditions. I would not recommend using them. • Both the 7D and 5D M11 can be used for this, however, I would say the closer the underwater subject or the bigger the above water subject the more I would lean towards a full frame camera. • Very early mornings and late afternoons are generally the best times for “over/ under”. It is also good to have thin streaky clouds in the sky (if that can be arranged) • Remember that the above-water subject has much more light than the subject below the water; use your strobes to compensate for this. • You also usually want the below-water subject to be in focus so change your focal points accordingly. • Close is better, very close is good, and extremely close is perfect. • Movement is generally fast and the over-section is lighter than the undersection, so be careful not to over expose the over-section. • Use high shutter speed 1/125 up depending on type of camera, medium depth of field (F8 to F16), strobes set below the water behind the dome. • Always remember to shoot and then review before plugging away at high speed to find you have taken 40 shots and they are all over or under-exposed • Use your hand as a good gauge (30cm from port), if your natural skin tone is well represented on the photograph you will find you will have the natural colour of the shark as good as perfect. • The previous 2 points should be applied to all styles of photographs, use this as a base to then manipulate your camera to get the desired photograph or result.
Co n t e n t s
Pa g e 6 6 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
Shallow water work & boat work • The deeper you go the more difficult it becomes to add colour to your photographs, so try to stay shallow - it allows you more time, good lighting effects and greater possibilities. • You do not always have to be “in” the water; sometimes hanging over the side of the boat with the camera underwater can produce some interesting results. • It is also very easy to keep your subject shallow by adapting the baiting technique to suit the photograph you want speak to the operator and see what is possible. You have to, however, realize that these special requests will have an impact on the divers that are just there to dive with the sharks. So it may not be possible at the time. My suggestion is to plan these dives, get some fellow photographers to join you on the excursion and in that way have a boat dedicated to photography work with a professional operator. • Always try and arrange someone to assist you; it helps a lot and really makes things easier when you have to move around the boat or need to coax some sharks closer • Remember to work with the current moving away from you when using baiting techniques. Sharks become unpredictable when “chasing” bait being carried by the current and your camera setup (strobes/dome port and other dangling flashy bits can be confusing to the shark). Pa g e 6 7 | www.africandiver.com
Mid Water & Bottom
• Mid water shark photography is difficult, this is mainly because of the lack of light. You also need to get closer to your subject to effectively make use of your strobes. I use shorter strobe arms positioned behind the dome in order to minimize back scatter as I find long strobe arms make managing backscatter difficult. • I like to mainly photograph silhouettes in mid water using the sun’s natural light to create more effect. • When the water is really clean, portrait shots and close up shots will work. • Remember that in dirty water it is always advisable to get really close to reduce the amount of water and particles between you and the subject and shoot upwards. Down is flat and boring except in one case and that is shooting from the surface down with light streaks. • If you are on a baited dive, shoot away from the baiting drum, it never looks nice in the background, unless the aim of your photograph is to show the baiting system. • Sharks like Raggies and Cow Sharks sometimes swim in patterns in certain areas. Once you enter their environment you may initially disturb this pattern. Find a good spot and wait; after a while they will return to the original pattern. Now you can get as many photos as you like.
Co n t e n t s
Pa g e 6 8 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
Sharks & People • Firstly, photographing sharks in their environment is relatively easy once you have the entire list of do’s and don’ts down pat. Adding people into this mix just makes life difficult due to various issues e.g. communication, distance from the camera, the diver’s cumbersome movements and sometimes their plain and simple reluctance/fear to be in the water with sharks. • You in this instance want to make the diver the subject and the shark the support, not easy when the support act consistently out-performs the star of the show. • Work out your game plan fully prior to the dive and do a detailed briefing. This will allow you to tweak only a few things according the conditions that may experience. • Have an arm slate with you; you will thank the lucky stars that you brought one with you. • Some techniques used to get diver/model and shark together can be dangerous. Make sure the person is fully aware of the situation and he or she is fully briefed on all the do’s and don’ts. Don’t ever put a diver or model into a position that may compromise them in any way without their full understanding and consent to the idea. • Realistically speaking to get any decent shot of divers and sharks you need the diver to be a maximum of 1 metre away from the camera. This is difficult as they forever move away thinking they are too close. To solve this problem it may be an idea to let the model look through the lens before the dive so that they understand that even if they are 30 centimetres away from the camera they are not even filling half the frame (using a wide angle lens).
Pa g e 6 9 | www.africandiver.com
Temperate Waters • Temperate waters have always been considered a difficult environment for underwater photography. In some ways I will agree with my friends from Cape Town (the cold water for instance), but in other cases not. A few tips from my side: • Get very close (as if I have not said this before) because of the visibility. • Reduce the power on your strobes; in these waters it may not be the good old story of the more light the better. I do not shoot more than quarter power. • Use your ISO. It’s free and very good. • Review the whole time; a fluctuation in depth of just 1 metre has a huge impact on the amount of natural light. You want to use as much natural light as possible.
Quick start guide: • I usually start with these settings and experiment or change them depending on the conditions and shark behaviour. • For surface work – 1/160 at f11 and ISO 200, strobes on at ¼ power or not at all • For mid water work – 1/125 at f8 and ISO 320 strobes at ¼ or ½ power • For deeper work – 1/125 at f8 and ISO 400 strobes at ½ to full power.
Co n t e n t s
Pa g e 7 0 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
Co n t e n t s
Pa g e 7 1 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
Pa g e 7 2 | www.africandiver.com
My interest in photography began during the Seventies when I was given my grandfatherâ€™s Yashica 120 medium-format film camera. However, it was not until 1998 that I became seriously involved with photography after completing a painting course. I went to the Red Sea armed with a camera and loved it so much that it became a passion, to this day. I never decide beforehand what I want to photograph down below, and rather let serendipity play its part. This way I remain open minded to anything beautiful I might encounter. My main focus is in isolating the light in my photos - I donâ€™t take images for reference sake but only for art, beauty and passion. My background in learning how to use film helped me a lot to understand the basics of exposure and light and the immediate results and unlimited frames of digital is a big benefit underwater. On a personal level, it is my goal to capture the beauty of the world below without disturbing anything. It is a world too beautiful to describe in words and only images can portray that beauty. To use the cliche of which is my favourite image ... my answer is, the NEXT one.
w w w.evertnel.comâ€¨ Co n t e n t s
Pa g e 7 3 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
Co n t e n t s
Pa g e 7 4 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
Co n t e n t s
Pa g e 7 5 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
Pa g e 7 6 | www.africandiver.com
Co n t e n t s
Pa g e 7 7 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
Co n t e n t s
Pa g e 7 8 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
Co n t e n t s
Pa g e 7 9 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
Co n t e n t s
Pa g e 8 0 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
Co n t e n t s
Pa g e 8 1 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
Co n t e n t s
Pa g e 8 2 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
“... I like to be open minded to everything beautiful I might encounter with my main focus being to isolate the light in my photos I don’t take images for reference sake but only for art, beauty and passion.” Evert Nel
Pa g e 8 3 | www.africandiver.com
Co n t e n t s
Pa g e 8 4 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
Co n t e n t s
Pa g e 8 5 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
Photographed by Cormac McCreesh
Pa g e 8 6 | www.africandiver.com
By Verona Smith , once nicknamed shark bait by her dive buddies because she was petrified of sharks, travels the world to film and photograph them in order to raise awareness about their plight. Photo: Mike Ellis Pa g e 8 7 | www.africandiver.com
also known as the Shark Warrior
for her passionate efforts in shark conservation, is a multitalented woman who has been referred to as a dynamo and someone who â€œtakes ideas and gives them wingsâ€?. This A-type personality wears many hats as an accomplished marine and shark conservationist and founder of AfriOceans Conservation Alliance. She is a visionary, an award winning filmmaker, photographer and campaigner, an educator, public speaker, author and environmental
education and ocean awareness initiatives, and last but not least an activist, filled with passion to help save our sharks and our oceans. Her energy and passion is contagious, rubbing off on her dynamic and dedicated team, and all those whose lives she touches. Before dedicating her life to marine conservation she had a colourful and diverse background that began with being a model while putting herself through the University of Cape Town where she studied Dramatic Arts. Her high profile career as an actress and TV presenter was followed by studies in Environmental Science and Cosmology. Pa g e 8 8 | www.africandiver.com
Lesley swims with a tiger shark while in the Bahamas for a shoot for the AfriOceans Rethink the Predator â€“ Bahamas slide show production. Photo: Mike Ellis
Co n t e n t s
Pa g e 8 9 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
She later diversified into the corporate
“As a freelance travel journalist and
world and became a highly successful
underwater photographer I would
financial advisor, running funds worth
often return to the same destinations
the first AfriOceans project and Lesley’s
millions of Rands annually. Inspired as a
where I witnessed the deterioration of
child by Jacques Cousteau, she has been a
these areas. This perturbed me greatly.
lifelong advocate of marine conservation and it was only a matter of time before she found her true vocation.
The more I researched and became aware
practices were raping our oceans of
“Cousteau planted the ocean seed for me. I was fascinated by the underwater realm and all the creatures of the oceans he shared, and decided then that I would one day see them for myself,“ says Lesley.
all life, the more concerned I became. Of particular concern was what I was learning about sharks, animals that play such a vital role in maintaining the delicate balance of the fragile marine ecosystems, and how as other fish stocks decline worldwide, shark
An adventurer by heart, Lesley has pursued
catches are increasing, ” says Lesley
Lesley’s unique relationship with Maxine, a ragged-tooth shark held at the Two Oceans Aquarium.
“I met Maxine at the aquarium while photographing for an article I was writing on the plight of sharks. Maxine stood out for me because of a scar she had around her gills. Upon investigating how she got the scar I realised that she had an extraordinary story, one that encapsulates the plight of sharks, and
such as rock climbing, paragliding and
Her concern and passion resulted in her
that she could play a pivotal role in
white water canoeing, but her first love
establishing the AfriOceans Conservation
shark conservation. From that day on
has always been SCUBA diving, which
Alliance in 2003, a non-profit organization
I set a course of events in motion that
she started in 1990. Today, a PADI Dive
based in Cape Town, South Africa. Under
changed both of our lives dramatically:
Master with over 1000 dives, many of
I influenced a decision for Maxine to be
which she accumulated in her travels as an
achieved considerable success in a very
set free after nine years in captivity, and
short space of time and is considered a
I packed up my well-paying corporate
leader in marine education and shark
job and dedicated my life to marine and
conservation in Africa.
environmental journalist and underwater photographer to exotic destinations such as Bali, Bahamas, Raja Ampat, and Thailand, to mention a few. Pa g e 9 0 | www.africandiver.com
Lesley is well known for her fearless approach in fighting against the injustices inflicted upon the oceans and often participates in protests.
Co n t e n t s
Photo: Terry Corr/AOCA
Pa g e 9 1 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
Maxine became the icon for the M-Sea Programme, and a multi- media education and awareness campaign supported an exciting scientific research project designed by Lesley. Within less than two years the Programme reached 100 millions people worldwide. This was only the beginning of Lesley’s string of success stories, and true to her growing reputation as a proactive visionary, Lesley established the first public Shark Centre in South Africa, which she ran as an AfriOceans project for two years.
Early morning beach walkers inspect a coffin that has washed up on the shore, a cry for help from our dying oceans – the plague reads: ‘Every minute 208 dolphins die in fishing nets. Be part of the solution.’ Photo: Lesley Rochat
Since then her success continues and it has not gone unnoticed, or unrewarded: in 2011 the AfriOceans Warriors Environmental Education Programme,
a 3-year AfriOceans
project focused on empowering 170 000 learners from 170 schools to become ambassadors of Africa’s oceans, received substantial funding from the National Lottery Distribution Fund of South Africa. One of the Programme’s components is teaching the youth to make environmental documentaries. Co n t e n t s
Armed with her camera while on a shark longline vessel fishing of Cape Point, Lesley films for her documentary, Sharks in Deep Trouble. Photo: Dave Japp Pa g e 9 2 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
What better teacher than this award winning director and producer of her production company, Blue Pulse Pictures, which she established in 1995. With skills that range from camera operating, editing to scriptwriting, Lesley has produced numerous documentaries, including her multi-award winning documentary, Sharks in Deep Trouble, and the Panda Award winning Save Our Sharks short awareness video.
To watch this video please click here.
“Film production is one of the most powerful general
Her history in film began with her love for photography in her
our AfriOceans Warriors Programme,
own dark room where she spent many hours developing black
and white film. Today Lesley is considered one of South Africa’s
help raise awareness about important environmental issues.”
top underwater photographers. She is the Principal Photographer for AfriOceans, covering all the organisation’s projects, including numerous photographic expeditions worldwide. Lesley is also a member of the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP).
Pa g e 9 3 | www.africandiver.com
Her other major success is her work as a
Writing is another of her loves and
“The combined effects of years of
campaigner, in particular the Panda Award
she is a well-published environmental
mismanagement, inadequate compliance
winning Rethink the Shark campaign,
and inadequate monitoring, coupled
designed for Lesley and AfriOceans by
with illegal and unregulated ﬁshing in
Saatchi & Saatchi. This campaign was
publications, newspapers, books, and
followed by her Rethink the Predator
online. She is also an author of several
campaign, and the Rethink the Oceans
educational books and children’s books
about the oceans.
elements, an ominous coffin washed up on a beach, symbolic of our dying oceans.
As an acitivst once referred to by Carte Blanche as a ‘thorn in the side’
our waters, and poor research capacities within the department, have resulted in many of our shark populations declining drastically. We can’t wait for government to do their jobs; it will simply be too late. We are now calling on the public to help us save our sharks,” Lesley says with determination.
of the local fishery department, she has earned a respected reputation for her efforts in lobbying for the conservation and protection of South Africa’s marine resources, and its sharks in particular. To watch this video please click here.
Ready to stick her neck out for what she believes in, she was recently on prime time national TV news lobbying
“Campaigning targets specific audiences
for the AfriOceans WANTED! DEAD or
with very direct messages. Through my
ALIVE? Campaign, which is fighting
campaign work I have helped to change
for the protection of a number of shark
perceptions about sharks and the oceans,
species including tiger sharks, bull
and raise awareness about critical issues
sharks and sevengill cowsharks.
threatening our oceans.” AfriOceans is asking for support for their lobbying campaign WANTED! DEAD or ALIVE? that is seeking protection of a number of shark species. Click here for more info Co n t e n t s
Pa g e 9 4 | w w w. a fr i c a n d i ve r. c o m
Photo: Terry Corr/AOCA
Teaching young AfriOceans Warriors about the oceans is a joy for Lesley, and capturing it on video helps promote this awesome programme. Pa g e 9 5 | www.africandiver.com
As if this is not enough, what else has this extraordinary individual, who wishes there were 48 hours in a day, got planned for the near future? “Well…” she says smiling and taking in a deep breath, “...we are about to launch our new Rethink the shark public service announcement, and an exciting international shark campaign, plus we are working on a new slide show production, and filming a talented shark scientist for a new documentary, and photographing for another campaign that is bound to raise some eyebrows, and of course planning our AfriOceans Warriors Holiday Programme for December.” This all on top of opening the new AfriOceans public office in Glencairn, and getting on with a book project that combines her superb photography, and a documentary aimed for international release. Given her track record, it’s no surprise that Lesley is considered an important role player in marine and shark conservation, and referred to as the next Sylvia Earle.
Lesley’s children’s book called Sue finds Happy Eddie the Shy Shark, was turned into a play by the Jungle Theatre and continues to delight thousands of children.
Says this deeply spiritual person, a vegetarian who walks her talk, and an inspiring example of how one person can make a difference:
Her efforts are recognized worldwide resulting in an international following and many invites to public speak. Rightly so, Lesley was selected as a member of the 2010 class of Honorees in the Women Divers Hall of Fame that seeks to recognize and honour the many women whose achievements have enriched the worldwide diving community and
“We need to learn to live gently on our beautiful planet. On our current path we are heading for environmental catastrophes and imminent self-destruction, but we can change our course, and the next 10 years are critical in achieving this. It’s not someone else’s problem to solve, all 7 billion of us are part of the problem and so we can each and every one of us be part of the solution. We can begin today to rethink our place in nature, rethink what we buy, eat, and do, how our actions and choices affect the environment, rethink the
contributed to awareness about our oceans.
predator, and of course rethink the shark!”
F o r m o r e i n fo r m a t i o n c l i c k h e r e t o v i s i t : w w w. l e s l e y r o c h a t . c o m a n d w w w. a o c a . o r g . z a Pa g e 9 6 | www.africandiver.com
Published on Nov 30, 2011