Nat Geo WILD: From Executive Producer Phil Fairclough

Just arrived at Shark Attack Live HQ in Johannesburg, South Africa after months of preparation in the US.

The first things that catch my eye are two large silver disco balls being packed into a crate.  Petro Van Dyk, my irrepressible and, endlessly creative production manager, tells me she’s got them for attracting sharks. And if they survive being bitten we will use them for the after party.

Sounds ridiculous, but the disco balls are part of one of the many tests and demonstrations which we will be doing to try to help people really understand what makes sharks attack.

We know from one of our previous tests that black tip reef sharks are strongly attracted to shiny objects—surfer and shark lover Olivia Symcox was nearly attacked when she was waving a shiny necklace around underwater.

So, now we want to see how sharks react to even bigger shinier objects… when we put our team of human bait into the water.

I’m surrounded by mountains of technical gear, which is being packed up to make an 8-hour road trip to Durban.

Production Assistant Julie at 'Shark Attack Live HQ' in Johannesburg, South Africa. Photo by Phil Fairclough.

Julie, one of our PAs, is sitting on top of about 5% of it here. There’s a lot more already being assembled in Scottburgh, about 50 miles south of Durban which is where we will be based for the actual event.

I hate to jinx it, but I am feeling fairly confident and very excited about the show.  We’ve got a fantastic technical crew and on-camera talent. In all we will have about 100 people from the US and South Africa converging on our location.

My biggest worry right now is the weather.  I am pretty sure we’re guaranteed sharks, but the thing I can’t really control in any way is the elements. This part of the South African coastline is called the Wild Coast, with good reason.

I want it to be warm and calm, with light winds, which warm up the water and bring lots of big sharks in, especially the tigers.

This far out, my long range forecast isn’t accurate, but it looks like we’re going to escape big wind and surf. It might rain, but my diving supremo and shark expert Mark Addison says it looks like we might be well positioned to get those big tiger sharks! Here’s hoping.

I leave to join the crew and the disco balls on location tomorrow.

Phil Fairclough is Executive Producer
of Shark Attack Experiment: LIVE – a two-hour special event on Nat Geo WILD airing live this Friday, November 25 at 9pm ET/6pm PT.

Changing Planet