August 09, 2012

Meet the Experts


Gail Addison has her roots in water sports and is an ex-South African water-skiing champion. Gail took this love of water into the marine realm by becoming a diving instructor and using the platform to introduce people to our blue planet as well as educating them about our oceans.

Gail's daily activity in running Blue Wilderness Dive Expeditions sees her educating a wide spectrum of people, from orphans—who have never seen the sea—to recreational divers wanting to interact with the sharks of Shark Park. Part of Gail's personal growth has come about due to the growing threat that sharks face around the world and the realization that she is in a unique position to change this situation in her small way and reverse many of the myths that exist in people's minds about sharks and the very real danger sharks face from man.


Mark Addison will be serving the project on and off camera as a logistics adviser focused on locating the sharks. He will also be a participant in the experiment as "human bait" along with his wife, Gail.

Addison has 20 years of experience under his weight belt. His pioneering shark dives and observations have proven an invaluable asset to the global scientific community. He can hold his breath under water for a mind-numbing six minutes. This allows sharks to see him as just another streamlined marine creature instead of a Darth-Vader-like enemy with air tanks huffing through a noisy regulator. Mark owes his breath-holding ability to a heart defect known as sinus bradycardia. In layman's terms, Mark's ticker beats two-thirds slower than the average male of the same age and physique.

Mark's company, Blue Wilderness, based in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, specializes in providing underwater logistics for film companies and the scientific community. In addition, they organize natural history expeditions. Scientific and conservation projects Mark has been involved with include: the formation of the Aliwal Shoal Marine Protected Area, the East Coast Fish Watch Project, SRI Whale Shark Project, and the Aliwal Ragged Tooth and Tiger Shark Projects.


As a veteran cinematographer, Andy's passion for wildlife has taken him around the world to capture the behavior of some of the planet's most fascinating and fiercest creatures. A long-time buddy of Mark Addison, Andy will risk anything to get "the shark shot." Andy is famous for his fearless approach to the great white shark. During one encounter he actually sang a song to them while playing his guitar underwater.

For this project, Andy's mission is twofold. When he's not shooting shark encounters, Andy will take a shift as human shark bait. Andy's cinematography credits include numerous documentaries about sharks. He was also a contributor to the White Shark Trust. According to Andy, he is "living the life I dream by helping save the great white shark."


Originally from Colorado, Clare now lives in South Africa and Mozambique. Clare received her bachelor's degree in Environmental Economics from Colorado College in 2007 and is a licensed master scuba diver instructor.

She is the founder and director of 3 Fathoms, Inc., a Florida-based nonprofit dedicated to the least invasive shark research. She also works as a research assistant and coordinator for the Bull Shark Research Project in Mozambique. The research is led by a Rhodes University Marine Biology PhD candidate. Shark sizing and sexing, categorizing data, assisting with in situ biopsy collection, and analysis of general oceanographic and climatic conditions are amongst her responsibilities.

Clare has worked as dive master and instructor in many of the world's foremost underwater locations from Central America to Ko Tao, an island in Thailand. Her teaching experience includes dive instruction and shark education, a specialty driven by her devotion to safety as well as shark conservation.

In 2009, Clare worked for the UK-based Coral Cay Conservation, the internationally renowned marine conservation charity dedicated to the protection of coral reefs and tropical rainforests. Currently, Clare works closely with shark expert, Mark Addison, at Blue Wilderness South Africa as an expert dive guide and instructor. Through her experiences diving with sharks Clare has become committed to shark conservation.


Matt will take an active role on camera, analyzing our high-speed footage of shark behavior. For a scientist devoted to human shark interactions, this project is a golden opportunity.

Over the past decade Dr. Dicken has worked on many of South Africa's shark species including white, tiger, Zambezi dusky and ragged tooth sharks. He has published 13 lead author papers on sharks in peer-reviewed scientific journals, as well as numerous popular articles. His work has also been featured on several documentary channels.

As a senior research associate he is currently the lead scientist in several ongoing shark projects. The most notable of these is investigating the movement patterns of white sharks in Algoa Bay as part of a beach and bather shark safety program. A current area of interest is the nonconsumptive use of sharks and other marine resources along the South African coast. By seeking creative solutions for marine development and tourism he hopes that his work will help to develop new eco-tourism opportunities within South Africa.


Currently, he is the research coordinator for Oceans Research. His time is split between identifying and overseeing Oceans Research projects and hosting marine wildlife documentaries for the National Geographic Channel. Topics of his research and publications include: whether the white shark cage diving industry makes sharks increasingly dangerous to humans, satellite and acoustic tracking of great whites, impact of eco-tourism on sharks, bite strength of great white sharks, and predator prey games of great whites hunting seals.

Ryan's participation in the Shark Attack Experiment: LIVE is in step with his long-term commitment to illuminate the hidden world of sharks, to accurately portray their behavior, and to protect them from human nature and environmental threats.


Vic Peddemors will also be part of the on-camera team. He joined NSW DPI in 2008 and now heads the shark research section of the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, providing scientific leadership for the group's research and advisory effort. He is currently also an associate professor in marine biology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and is a visiting fellow at the Graduate School of the Environment, Macquarie University, Sydney.

Vic has over 25 years of scientific research experience in Antarctica, Australia, England, Holland, Mozambique, and South Africa. His research interests cover a wide range of marine apex predators, but have particularly focused on cetaceans and sharks. This research has covered habitats from the tropics to the Antarctic while investigating the behavior, biology, abundance, and distribution of marine predators in relation to their habitat. Human-induced impacts, either through fishery or tourism interactions, have been a long-term study interest. He has written over 75 scientific articles, more than 45 of which are peer-reviewed publications.


Olivia is a lifelong surfer, licensed scuba and free diver, a public relations executive, and reporter. She has a diploma in marketing from I.M.M. and owns Olivia Jones Communications (OJC), a leading Durban-based public relations agency handling a diverse range of clients. OJC also volunteers their PR services to a number of environmental and charity groups including the South African Sports Association for the Intellectually Impaired and Shark Savers.

Olivia currently is also an East Coast Radio Marine & Angling reporter, East Coast Radio Beach Watch reporter and weekly columnist, writing, "Olivia's Ocean Current" for Upper Coast Fever newspaper.

Through her well-established media contacts, daily radio surf reports, and weekly newspaper columns, Olivia is committed to educating the public about sharks and the conservation issues facing our oceans. She also uses her own PR consultancy business and sporting profile to assist and promote responsible shark reporting in the media. OJC is dedicated to making a difference and dispelling the shark fears of those who enter the water.

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