Saturday, May 24, 2008

Shark Diving at Blue Wilderness goes Free

Record freediver William Winram dancing Paso Doble with a striped beauty

(Photograph by Felix Leander, 2008)

Mark Addison pioneered Tiger Shark diving in South Africa some 25 years ago, and has since become one of the most experienced and respected shark dive operators world-wide.

Those who have seen Mark in last year's Shark Week program ("Deadly Stripes")* will perhaps recall that he normally freedives with his gentle striped pets. He does so because he has long ago found out that only freedivers can interact with sharks in a truly non-obstructive and close way.

This year, Mark and his charming wife Gail will introduce free-diving courses at their base. Blue Wilderness will thus be the first shark operation on the globe to formally teach scuba divers how to freedive with sharks.

Congratulations, Gail and Mark: That will be yet another pioneering step forward in shark diving!!

Now, the teacher won't be just anyone - the Addisons are lucky to have a world-class freediver to run the courses: Hanli Prinsloo, South African freediving champion.

Not unlike Tanya Streeter, a former world champion, Hanli is a petite, almost fragile looking young woman. But make no mistake: This lady is extremely disciplined and has a will of iron. I have seen her diving once, and could only marvel at her - Hanli is a true mermaid, she moves, rather flows, with a grace and lightness that defies description.

Who should take freediving lessons? Everybody who loves the ocean. All you need is to be in good shape.

I will take a course with Hanli next year, as I am sure she will be able to teach me how to improve my freediving skills by at least 30%, if not more, in no time.

As we say in German: "Man lernt nie aus" (= You never stop learning).

*) I can't hold back: What a completely misleading, utterly sensationalistic title for a documentary about tigers sharks!

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