Great White Sharks – Mindless Killers or Accommodating Predators?

Published: Tuesday, April 13, 2021

All SportAnimal care

Over the years Chris Fallows  has interacted with Great white sharks in many different ways to show they are not the mindless killers they are often thought to be.

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    Chris and Monique Fallows have gone to great lengths to portray Great white sharks as magnificent super predators that are highly efficient at what they do and thankfully 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 it is best to assess the situation each time before partaking in water activities.

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

    With so much debate around shark attacks and the factually unsupported assumption by some that Great white shark populations are on the rise, Chris Fallows has got in the water with Great White Sharks in various recreational ways that humans choose to use whilst in/on the ocean. This has shown many people first hand that sharks do not simply rush in and attack and are actually tolerant of us in their space. For the record in every instance, other than when free diving, Chris was at least 100m from a support vessel or back up and the Great white sharks were free to interact with Chris as they chose.

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

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

    In 2010 as part of a Discovery Channel documentary testing magnetic shark repellents, Chris was placed in a 1/8th inch plastic tube and hand fed Great white sharks. In every instance the sharks took the bait cleanly from his hand and never once tried to bite him. Later during the same shoot he free-dived with up to 4 sharks at a time and often had the sharks no more than a few feet from him, in all instances, even under baited conditions, the sharks were wary and kept their distance (no repellants were used).

    Chris has previously free dived in Gansbaai, the Great white shark Capital in 1994, Seal Island in 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.

    (Go here if you want to experience shark cage diving in Gansbaai)

    (Maybe you are looking for shark cage diving in False Bay  or a shark cage diving experience in Cape Town)

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

    Not for a minute are we saying they are not formidable predators and we should not respect their capabilities and people should not willingly do what Chris has done without knowing there is a risk. However 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.