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52 aquarium filled with jellyfish, lion fish, clown fish and much more. The next morning, Mike purchases a large barracuda from the local fishermen and we cook it over the coals for breakfast. “How does it taste?” he inquires, looking pleased. I give him the thumbs up. It’s a huge privilege to be dining on fish so fresh it was still in the ocean only an hour before, and it tastes that way, too. A spectacular red road leads out of the estuary. “They say the soil of Africa is so red due to all the blood that was shed for it,” says Mike. Mojo takes the road like it’s an intercity arterial, cruising over the bumps with ease. FREEDIVING WITH A PRINCE By afternoon, we reach the Archipelago Resort in Vilanculos. From the porch, the view of the estuary’s many moods and resident dhow boats, a remnant of the Arab traders of the past, can be peacefully enjoyed. It is here that Mike once took the Crown Prince of Qatar on a bull shark freediving expedition. “The Prince had seen some of my documentaries and asked me to accompany him on an expedition to observe bull sharks in the wild. We spent a great day diving just here and saw many beautiful sharks.” Mike began free diving with sharks more than 20 years ago, while running his cage-diving business Shark Diving Unlimited, in Gansbaai in the Western Cape. He spent a lot of time interacting with great white sharks from the boat, observing their behaviour and developing a huge appreciation for ABOVE: The ruins of an old Portuguese hotel and chalets. LEFT: A jellyfish lounges in a rockpool. these majestic apex predators. He was intrigued by the species, and in 1998 he began freediving with them. He was extremely cautious and used his knowledge of animal behaviour to understand the sharks’ movements and to interact with them. With this expertise, he was able to communicate with the sharks by making his body smaller or larger to attract or deter the animal. So why do sharks fascinate Mike so much? “Everything we learn is new. Their behaviour is nothing like that written in the books. They are extremely clever and complex animals, not mindless killing machines.” Has he ever worried that a shark might try and kill him?


1-October-2016
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