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Sharklady Adventures

61 Marine Drive,
7200, Hermanus,
Western Cape,
South Africa
Telephone: +27 (0)28-312 3287
Fax: +27(0)28 313 1967
E-mail: sharklady@hermanus.co.za
Website

Kim Maclean considers herself priviledged. That's because she lives on the doorstep of the greatest Great White shark territory in the world – in Hermanus. It's from here that Maclean runs her company, Sharklady Adventures, which provides cage-diving and viewing experiences of Great Whites in their natural habitat. It's much more than a job – it is her life's passion. Unlike many who view these sharks as man-eating monsters Maclean loves and respects these magnificent creatures which she says are misunderstood and much maligned.

 

Click to open image!
Click to open image!
Click to open image!

She has been involved with sharks since she left school and joined Sea Fisheries Research Institute (now Marine & Coastal Management). Then, after working with one of SA's greatest shark researchers, Dr Leonard Compagno at the SA Museum in Cape Town, she was chosen from over 350 female applicants as an aquarist and collection diver for the still-developing Two Oceans Aquarium. Because of her love of sharks, she was responsible for diving for the Aquarium's ragged-tooth sharks.

Sharklady Adventures is one of 11 companies in the Western Cape with a government exemption to chum (use bait to attract) for Great Whites and Maclean is the only woman in the game.

She is arguably the most experienced operator in the industry having pioneered Great White shark cage diving in SA in 1992 – long before it was the burgeoning multi-million rand business it is today. She tries to give her clients more than they came for. “It's not just about adrenaline, face-to-face, and the t-shirt,” she says energetically. “It must be a learning experience; people must leave with a better understanding of this apex predator. That's what we are trying to do – to educate.”

It seems her efforts are paying off – to some extent. She has been involved in a number of shark documentaries that have been aired on global channels like National Geographic and later this month will travel to Los Angeles in the US to kick-start the production of a new documentary.

But this industry attracts its share of criticism from people who believe the industry is to blame for the increase in shark “incidents” - she doesn't call them attacks – in the Western Cape. She denies the accusations. “Chumming does not encourage attacks, that has been proven.” She also operates according to strict codes of practice, some of which she wrote herself when the industry was in its infancy and had its fair share of cowboys.

But controversy, it seems, is good for business. The past summer season (not the best time of the year for Great White viewing) has seen unprecedented numbers of tourists clamouring for the limited number of seats on the boats. Some, says Maclean, are even prepared to pay more than the asking price...just for the priviledge of getting up close and personal with a Great White.  

WE DO NOT FEED SHARKS, WE DO NOT USE SHARK BAIT OR SHARK LIVER, WE DO NOT ENTICE SHARKS CLOSE TO BOAT OR CAGE.  

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Added: 2006-10-25 09:30:24
Last updated: 2009-08-25 13:46:07