Return to Shark Alley!
Thrilled to have an old "shark friend" of mine, Lalo Saidy, participate in our first shark talk show. Why should you be excited? Lalo has been working with white sharks on a near daily basis for fourteen years, some of those years spent in both South Africa and Guadalupe. In 2004, 2007, and 2014 Skyler and Lalo were able to spend time together observing the sharks in Gansbaai.. and SO MUCH has changed there over the years. Like what? Lalo sheds light on the shark situation there and much more in this interview.
Skyler met Lalo in Gansbaii, South Africa, in 2004, when they were both working on different shark boats. Skyler and Lalo hung out again in Gansbaii in the summer of 2007 and again briefly in the same location in 2014. There have been drastic changes to the sharks, diving community, and ecology of the area during that time. Since Lalo has worked on shark boats that entire time we decided to ask him about these changes. Since Lalo was with Skyler the day he went snorkeling in Shark Alley back in 2004, we thought we’d ask Lalo to help us address some of the comments and criticism posted on Youtube regarding the video of that event.
Complete topic guide:
Humorous relief as Dan Abbott reads the top “mean comments” posted on Skyler’s short film “Swimming in Shark Alley”
All photographs and video footage by Lalo Saidy except the breach footage, captured by Skyler Thomas.
2014 interview of Skyler and Lalo filmed by Maarten Jozef Billen
Follow Lalo’s work at http://thisismysharklife.com/
Follow Skyler’s current film at http://www.whitesharkvideo.com/monsters
Dan’s next project includes filming endangered orcas in British Colombia. Support that project at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/48340301/searching-for-chinook
Drone footage I never released from my 2016 trip to Guadalupe, featuring its incredible white sharks and some shots of the islands and the seal pups along the shore.
Shot in 4K with the Phantom 4 UHD drone by Skyler Thomas.
In an interview with surf legend Wayne Lynch, I asked him about surviving sharks in the 60s to which he stated, “I learned to read the signs, and I don’t mean signs posted on the beach.”
This got me thinking about the shark bite news articles that stated the surfers had been warned and that conditions were poor. Are we worse at being aware of dangerous conditions or simply not care? Or a combination?
Then I thought, "What if shark attack databases included a category called 'preventable', or 'human error', or 'stupidity'?" We have provoked and non provoked, fatal and non fatal (by the way, under non fatal are included attacks with no injury whatsoever, yes, those are recorded). Point being, would it affect our approach to safely entering the ocean if this little titbit of information was subconsciously planted in our minds? If we saw the vast number of shark bites that occurred when someone made a decision to ignore warnings would that 1. Improve our attitudes toward sharks? Would it lead to people reading further to know what those poor conditions were or what the warnings came in the shape of?
The ocean has predators, not only does it have predators, but we’re in an even more vulnerable position in those ocean encounters than with land predators. So what do we do? Preemptively kill everything that can kill us? Or, what about learning how to improve our own self preservation?
Warnings come in different forms. There are the warnings that nature will give you if you are paying attention, and there are warnings that are provided by other humans, such as posting beach signs, sending tweets or other alerts, sirens, or lifeguards literally saying, “Hey, don’t go in there!”
Going through the global shark attack file it will blow your mind how many of the recorded bites occurred after such warnings were heard, seen, and ignored. I’ll give a few examples in a moment.
The other warnings, the ones nature provides, aren’t as obvious, but re still clear to those who have learned to see them. I’m not saying I’m one of those people, I have a ton to learn, but I can tell you that I’m not going to go swimming with a dead whale in the vicinity. SCUBA dive yes, swim, no. Why? That’s a different video.
Wayne lists a few examples, such as, fish shoaling, dawn and dusk, shark sightings, and a sixth sense, a connection with the ocean, something he suspects is lacking the increasing population of people using the ocean.
Enter Chris Lowe’s quote, “We have a growing population with a decreasing ability to access risk”
Of course you don’t have to stay out of the ocean when a shark is spotted, in truth sharks are probably there when they aren’t spotted, so shark presence doesn’t necessarily mean shark threat. And even when there’s a shark bite you don’t have to stay out and you still might be OK
Let’s look at some examples. Wait, before we do that, again, why am I bothering? Well, I am a shark advocate and I would like to see us actually learn how to better coexist with them rather than killing them. I’m not saying sharks don’t bite people and I’m not saying they won’t continue to in the future. I’m saying, that your best chance of not being bitten lies with knowledge, not with baited hooks and indiscriminate nets.
Fish Hoek, South Africa, a fishing town within False Bay and not the best place on the planet in terms of shark bites on humans. In this example, the beach had been closed, the shark warning flag was up, warnings had been issued, and the guy went in anyway. At the time of the bite the victim was the only person in the water.
I’m not going to say the names of the victims in this video, but I have provided links to the incidences if you want to look into them yourself. I provide both a news article and the Global Shark Attack File report as a cross reference.
Global Shark Attack File
Next, Hawaii, a kayak fishermen has his leg bitten while dangling his feet in the water while fishing in waters known to have many tiger sharks AND he and his fellow fishermen were aware that fishing attracts the sharks and makes them more aggressive
Let that sink in.
I mentioned signs provided by nature earlier. Would you consider the fact that the turtles had cleared out of the area as a sign?
Reunion Island, a guy gets in where water sports are banned because of shark bites and after being warned
Or this guy who, along with his friends, saw a shark and decided to risk staying out, and gets bitten. THEN, another guy, who heard about that incident gets in anyway and is bitten 7 hours later. Turns out there was a dead whale in the area leaking the ultimate shark dinner bell, but no one knew yet. Which brings up a provoking question; even if no one else has issued a warning, if you are going to enter an active ecosystem and don’t want to be bitten, is it not in your best interest to investigate those conditions yourself? Sounds like in this case these guys were the type who might have gotten in anyway, which, they have the right to do, and neither of them is calling for the death of sharks. BUT, these are recorded in the shark bite database and provide fuel for those who want to kill sharks.
Examples 4 and 5
Or the guys who got in knowing a shark was in the vicinity. The second guy got in knowing the first guy had been bitten 7 hours earlier.
I could go on with those sorts of examples all day. Let’s move on to other forms of fucking up.
Boy sticks finger in captive shark’s mouth after repeatedly being told not to. Boy gets cut. Incident is recorded as a shark bite. They were nice enough to put it in the provoked category, but unless you’re going to read the details, it’s just another number added to the list of shark attacks on file. On that topic, just in case you didn’t know, also padding the stats are events when fishermen are bitten while shark fishing. Meaning that a shark, fighting for its life, manages to get hold of the creature that inflicted the harm upon it first, and now is listed as a shark attack.
How about this ass clown who shoots a shark then the shark retaliates? Guess what, that’s in the shark attack database.
And then you have people who are bitten as a result of other people’s actions.
Such as Tathra, New South Wales, 2014, illegal shark fishing leads to a woman who had been swimming in the area for 14 years without incident to lose her life. Has anything happened to the illegal fishermen? No. Are they culling sharks in New South Wales? Yes.
A similar story back in the United States occurs when a fisherman illegally hooks a white shark and fights it for 40 minutes at Manhattan Beach Pier place known for surfers sharing water with juvenile white sharks without an incident EVER until an animal fighting for its life ends up running into a swimmer.
Again, I’m not saying sharks don’t bite people, I’m asking you to look at the results of our own choices and our own behavior. No matter what the circumstances, it’s chalked up as a shark attack. We can choose violence and vengeance or we can actually learn how to survive.
Video footage and photos by Skyler Thomas and Andy Dellios or taken from published news articles.
Links to shirt shown in video
Shark tooth shirt
I kill people shirt
"An 18 foot white shark slid up out of the water without a sound and looked at us."
Wayne Lynch recounts the time a white shark circled him and another surfer he'd rescued from a rip tide for 20 minutes.
Wayne Lynch’s words offer so much for us to learn from that I’ve decided to post his entire interview. Sit back and enjoy the wisdom and entertaining shark stories from one of Australia’s greatest surf pioneers.
Background: When I was in Australia to make the film ‘Great White Lies’ in 2014 I was fortunate enough to have Kent Stannard (accomplished surfer and founder of Tag for Life) introduce me to surf legend Wayne Lynch. We drove from Melbourne to Wayne’s home near Urquhart Bluff in South Victoria overlooking the very waves Wayne used to surf. We proceeded to chat about the culling taking place in Western Australia (at that time), his feelings about culling, how surfing and the approach to surfing have changed, keys to surviving the ocean, Vietnam and dodging the draft, and some of his best ocean stories (including crazy shark tales).
Great quotes from the interview:
Regarding surviving sharks - “Part of surfing was reading the signs, and I don’t mean the signs on the beach. There were some indications that were clear, but sometimes you just had a feeling. You had to be aware, and awareness seems to have decreased now. There are people from all walks of life with minimal understanding of the ocean who are now into surfing.”
Regarding shark numbers supposedly increasing - “I grew up surfing in the 60s and there were way more sharks back then. We saw sharks regularly and had to get out of the water regularly.”
“We are ecological members of the planet and if anything we should be stewards of it.”
“This ocean was alive with fish…with everything. Now the ocean is diminished on all fronts. I remember a day watching thousands and thousands of dolphins go by nonstop for hours and times when the bay was so full of fish there must have been one every few inches.
Sharks were everywhere, going past me, under me…it’s just something you lived with.”
“Sometimes sharks told me to get out. They never really took an interest other than sometimes letting me know they weren’t happy with my presence.”
“One time an 18 footer slid its head above the surface without a sound and looked at us. When a shark gets that big you don’t look at the length, you look at the width.”
Regarding Vietnam. “We had no place there. I wonder how many wars we would be in if politicians were sending their children to the front lines.”
“I truly sympathize with people who have lost a loved one to a shark, but I just can’t see how killing other sharks solves that.”
Photos appear courtesy of and with direct permission of Lalo Saidy and Maarten Jozef Billen. Video footage by Skyler Thomas.
You can support Kent's shark work at http://whitetag.com.au/
Sometimes we imagine white sharks only hunting in the open blue of the ocean or launching breach attacks from the deep. However, their most susceptible prey are the new seal and sea lion pups who are just venturing from shore for the first time, or that are swept out to sea by a large wave. With that in mind it is actually common to see white sharks patrolling close to shore, and in Andrew Fox's case, he's actually seen these predations take place deep in the bay of the Neptune Islands of South Australia. Other locations where this has been witnessed include South Africa and Cape Cod.
This is a small segment from Skyler Thomas's interview with Andrew Fox in 2014, which can now be viewed in its entirety at below.
Full Interview with Andrew Fox
Debra Canabal of Epic Diving in the WSV hoodie. Get yours!
About the Author
Skyler Thomas is the primary blog contributor, cinematographer, and lead editor at White Shark Video.