February 24, 2011 by dyertrust

On the 7th of January our eco-tourism partner,Marine Dynamicshad the pleasure of hostingRichard Pierceontheir new cage diving vessel Slashfin, together with his grandson Oliver.

Richard is the founder and Chairman of theShark Conservation Society SCS- a UKbased non-profit shark research organisation. He is also the author ofSharks of the British Seasand Jaws Britain, and has been promoting elasmobranch conservation in and around the UK for literally decades. Richard was keenly interested in the work of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, most especially theshark researchbeing done in the Bay.

Richard has been returning to our area inGansbaaifor a number of years, specifically to photograph and dive with the great whites. Given the fact that he has seen the shark cage diving industry grow immensely, he carries a warm gratitude for those responsible operators, and rather than focusing on the expanding influx of tourists, he openly regards the industry as a classic case study of how the great whites are a charismatic animal now paying their way – similar to the whales. He thinks by giving a live animal a value, it may be the only way to secure a future for wildlife in the world we live in. He is a well respected ambassador for shark research and conservation in the UK and spending the morning with him and Oliver, I could see clearly why. He spoke from years of experience and this came across in his knowledge as he shared his stories with interested guests on board. They asked him questions on sharks, his documentaries and his latest expeditions.

In September this year Richard along with his wife, Jackie and the SCS are organising an expedition to the offshore regions on the North West coast of Scotland with the aim to document the biodiversity of shark species existing there. One real hope is to gain an encounter with a great white- it will be the first official documentation of the species along the UK coastline. The SCS has already carried out various similar expeditions in the Adriatic Sea and the Middle East all of which were a great success and responsible for confirming shark species in completely new niches.

Richard and Oliver climbed into our shark cage and into the icy green Cape waters – the temperature was down to a chilly eleven Celsius! Four juvenile great whites circled for a couple of hours allowing young Oliver some excellent close up encounters with the animal his granddad has been devoting so much of his life to. Watching from on board I felt it was so nice to observe two generations of shark enthusiasts side by side watching the oceans most elegant predator glide by. It was a privilege to have the pair of them on board and we wish Richard and SCS all the best luck with their upcoming expeditions.

Written by DICT’s Marine Biologist,Alison Towner