Nat Geo WILD: Challenging ‘Sharkist’ Stereotypes

By Mark Addison, shark expert, logistics adviser and “human bait” on Shark Attack Experiment LIVE:

This project has been a great opportunity for the team to investigate some often held misconceptions about sharks and shark attacks. In a year which has seen an increase in fatalities from shark bites it could not have come at a better time. The opportunity to separate fact from fiction, on an international platform such as this show, is a great privilege and one that is very close to my heart. The message I personally hold and espouse with regard to sharks is this: I don’t believe that any shark is a bad shark and I believe that we need to give sharks a chance.

Mark Addison swimming with a tiger shark. Photo courtesy Mark Addison.

At one level most of what we believe about sharks is more myth than fact, and it is this myth that is driving a species to extinction, because most people believe that the only good shark is a dead one—and/or in a soup bowl! Apathy is the other level that sees this species face persecution from some and silence from the rest. We have to work hard to turn this tide and generate knowledge, understanding, and engender a passion that galvanizes these people into action—and not just for sharks but for the planet.

There is no doubt that some quarters will castigate this show for what we have done and the perceived risks the girls went to while making their points, and others will find some other nuance that irritates them, but there is no doubt that they will want to know the outcome! I see this project as kick-starting the discussion and challenging the stereotypes.

I really want this show to be a game changer!


Mark has 20 years of experience in scientific and conservation projects. His company, Blue Wilderness, based in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, specializes in providing underwater logistics for film companies and the scientific community.
Learn more about Mark Addison and his work with sharks.



Meet the Author
Alison Walsh is Director, Digital Media, for National Geographic Channels. She loves history, space, cats, and the Oxford comma.