Sunday, April 25, 2010

On female divers, sharks, and women power.

Hanli Prinsloo: Freediving instructor, motivational speaker, creative writer, film producer, great companion - and, above all, a real "Mensh" *)
Photo: Wolfgang Leander

Sophia van Coller: Photographer, boat skipper, adventurer, talented and extremely elegant freediver, full of warmth and a fine sense of humor.
Photo: Wolfgang Leander
Click on images to enlarge

I was lucky, and privileged, to meet again some remarkable ocean ladies in South Africa, all committed in one way or another to the preservation of sharks.

Hanli Prinsloo, Julie Andersen, Olivia Jones-Symcox, Sophia van Coller, Fiona Ayerst, and Lesley Rochat are a bunch of strong-willed and focused women with a clear perception of where, and how far, they want to go.

For them, as for many others, sharks are the paradigm of the oceans' vulnerability - but not only that. They love sharks just for what they are: Awesome, powerful, and essentially gentle animals in the Big Blue.

These women are fantastic divers, very professional, very experienced. I did not photograph all of them this time as the weather conditions, especially the visibility, were quite adverse during my entire stay stay in South Africa. I snapped only 500 pics in four weeks, and came back with perhaps 20 acceptable images, among them the two posted above.

While I could be biased, I believe that women are, in general, closer to nature than men. It must be a gender specific intuition that makes women more sensitive to, and respectful of, life. Men hunt, above and under water; women don't.

Sure, there are a few
spearfisher'women' - but they are the exception to the rule. Olivia is such an exception; she is exceptional in many other ways as well. I have learned to know her as a very principled, genuine, and compassionate individual.

What I also find quite intriguing is that women are, proportionately, more passionate about sharks than men. Most of the "fan" mails I receive from the viewers of my shark photographs are female.

When I was younger, and that was a
loooong time ago, I always thought that sharks were for boys, as kitty cats were for girls. How wrong was I. But what can I do - I was (still am) like most men are: Prejudiced and narrow-minded....

Thanks to my beloved wife Karin I have learned a few lessons in the subject 'Women's Liberation' even though she tends to believe that, deep down, men are incapable of learning anything when it comes to gender issues. To her, I am still a hopeless 'macho'. I will not say that she is right, but I can't say she is completely wrong, either....

Whatever, as far as I am concerned, we'd fare much better if women ruled the world. Now more than ever.

*) Yiddish for "a decent human being".

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