A few years ago, anyone who ventured out in to the deep blue without any protection or scuba diving gear was labelled as crazy or attention seeking. Nowadays, more people have come to realise that swimming in the vast open ocean with sharks isn’t as dangerous or life threatening as what the media have led us to believe.
Here are a few amazing people who are advocating a new perception as well as the conservation of sharks by freely swimming with them side by side without any scuba diving gear or protection.
Being surrounded by water and ocean life has been a part of William’s life since from a young age, his father used to take him along on his scuba diving excursions. It was at the age of 10 when he learned to hold his breath for long periods underwater, and his greatest feat was when he managed to hold a single breath for a 12m free dive. After a few years of competitive diving, William felt that he needed to put his skills to greater use. Since then, he’s been advocating shark conservation. He has helped marine researchers tag sharks with tracking devices and, in 2012, started his own project called The Watermen; a non-profit organisation dedicated to the conservation of sharks and other marine animals.
Hannah Fraser dove to great depths in the Atlantic Ocean dressed only in a bikini, where she had photos taken of her alongside the ocean’s most feared species of sharks. This model and shark advocate courageously swam with tiger sharks in the Bahamas to show the true nature of these predators – that they’re not mindless killers as portrayed in popular culture. Hannah Fraser tells us in her own words why she loves what she does: “I advocate for greater understanding and awareness for all sea creatures, and hope to inspire people to see that sharks, despite being one of the world’s most effective predators, are also intelligent and magnificent animals worthy of protection.”
Ocean Ramsay spends her time travelling around the globe to swim with some of the world’s most notorious shark species to prove that they are in fact harmless and misunderstood creatures who only seek to go about their own business. You can catch Ramsay latching on to the dorsal fin of a great white as she glides effortlessly along. Nothing proves to her that sharks are harmless more than the antics that she gets up to when she’s at home in the blue with her apex friends. Ramsay talks about her adventures under the sea and her love of the animals: “A lot can be said between two creatures that don’t speak the same language. Even without eye contact, hanging on the dorsal fin allowed me to feel the shark’s subtle unseen movements”.
Madison Stewart, also known as “Shark Girl”, is a 20-year-old Australian who has dived with sharks since the age of 12. Her life mission is to protect and raise awareness around sharks as well as the ocean’s fragile ecosystem. Madison has travelled the world in aid of raising her voice against shark culling and finning, however when she touched ground in Australia, she was shocked at the state of the Great Barrier Reef, once abuzz with ocean life, was now home to one or two sharks. It was this alarming awakening that led her to start educating people through numerous documentaries about the danger which sharks face worldwide – and what we can do to save them.
We wouldn’t encourage anyone to go dive with sharks without any protection as it should be left to experienced divers, however, if you would love to experience the same adrenalin as free divers do then consider a safer option such as shark cage diving.