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Great White Shark News

Mindless Killers or Accommodating Predators?

written by Chris & Monique Fallows

Chris Fallows kayaking with a Great White shark in Mossel Bay.

Posted on Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Chris and Monique Fallows have gone to great lengths to portray sharks as magnificent super predators that are highly efficient at what they do and thankfully that we are not on their menu when it comes to being prey. Accidents unfortunately do happen but with less than 20 shark attacks per year worldwide the chances are very slim. We still should not forget that sharks are predators and to assess the situation each time before partaking in water activities.

Having said all of this Chris likes to put his money where his mouth is. Over the years he has interacted with sharks in many different ways to show they are not the mindless killers they are often thought to be.

Below is a graphic illustration of his efforts and experiences.



With so much debate around shark attacks and the factually unsupported assumption by some that white shark populations are on the rise I decided over the past few years to put my money where my mouth was as I was always saying that these animals really are not out there to kill us and interact with us many more times than we think without any incidents.

To prove this I got in the water with Great White Sharks in various recreational ways that humans choose to use whilst in/on the ocean. I hoped that this would show many people first hand that sharks do not simply rush in and attack and actually how tolerant they are of us in their space. For the record in every instance, other than when free diving, I was at least 100m from a support vessel or back up and the sharks were free to interact with me as they chose.  


In 2009 I kayaked in a 3.8m yum yum yellow plastic kayak with between 30-40 great white sharks over a 2 week period in Mossel Bay South Africa. In virtually every instance the sharks chose to avoid me by altering their course or diving and only if I paddled in a straight line away from them did they sometimes circle or follow me. I had also canoed around Seal Island, False bay in 2001 without incident, despite this area statistically being the world’s highest natural predation zone.


In 2010 I paddle boarded with various white sharks, some over 14ft in length off the beaches in Gansbaai, South Africa. I did this from a 12ft stand up paddle board and once again the sharks for the most part were not interested in me and only on rare occasions circled or followed me.


In 2009 I kayaked in a 3.8m yum yum yellow plastic kayak with between 30-40 great white sharks over a 2 week period in Mossel Bay South Africa.

In 2010 as part of a Discovery Channel documentary testing  magnetic shark repellents I was placed in a 1/8th inch plastic tube and hand fed great whites inches away. In every instance the sharks took the bait cleanly from my hand and never once tried to bite me or even my arm. Later during the same shoot I free dived with up to four sharks at a time and often had the sharks no more than a few feet from me. In all instances, even under baited conditions, the sharks were wary and kept their distance (no repellants were used). I have previously free dived in Gansbaai 1994, Seal Island , False Bay on various occasions and in Australia 2002, on all occasions without incident and on all occasions under baited conditions when attack would be considered most likely.



In every instance where I have placed myself in a vulnerable situation where I could easily have been attacked and killed, the sharks chose to either move away from me or cautiously circle me. This has also been the case with more than 30 other species of sharks I have free dived with over the years, from Mako’s to Bull’s and from Great Hammerheads to Oceanic White tip’s for the most part they were extremely cautious around me.



I am not for a minute saying they are not formidable predators and we should not respect their capabilities and people should not willingly do what I have done without knowing there is a risk. I am however saying that in almost all instances Great White Sharks and others are very tolerant of us and will choose to rather avoid us than attack us. With over 100 million sharks being killed a year and less than 10 human deaths annually attributed to sharks they have a lot more to fear from us than we do from them and it is actually humbling that we can actually go into the water and be tolerated by such a capable predator. 


Great White Shark, Chris Fallows

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