Mike Rutzen
Mike Rutzen is an expert on the great white shark
Great white shark
The great white shark, scientific name Carcharodon carcharias, also known as the great white, white pointer, white shark, or white death, is a large lamniform shark found in coastal surface waters in all major oceans. It is known for its size, with the largest individuals known to have approached...

 and an outspoken champion of shark conservation. His fame spread due to the images of his free diving exploits swimming with the animals without a cage. Mike has spent more time swimming cage-less with great whites than anyone else. He has since travelled the world lecturing on shark
Sharks are a type of fish with a full cartilaginous skeleton and a highly streamlined body. The earliest known sharks date from more than 420 million years ago....

s and filming documentaries on them.


Mike "Shark Man" Rutzen started out as a fisherman
A fisherman or fisher is someone who captures fish and other animals from a body of water, or gathers shellfish. Worldwide, there are about 38 million commercial and subsistence fishermen and fish farmers. The term can also be applied to recreational fishermen and may be used to describe both men...

 and local guy, though most definitely not a scientist, based in the South African town of Gansbaai that has since become famous for its white sharks. Like other Gansbaai locals Mike originally knew the great white as a 'Tommy Shark', due to the many British soldiers taken by great whites at the sinking of HMS Birkenhead
HMS Birkenhead (1845)
HMS Birkenhead, also referred to as HM Troopship Birkenhead or steam frigate Birkenhead, was one of the first iron-hulled ships built for the Royal Navy...

. As a fisherman he was scared of the animals but as tourism developed in the area there was a need for qualified boat skippers to take the tourists out to the animals. From this point he started to grow to love the fish in more ways than one. Mike worked for Andre Hartman
Andre Hartman
Andre Hartman is a South African diving guide best known for his work with great white sharks. In a Discovery Channel documentary known as "Great White Sharks: Uncaged" he is filmed free-diving unprotected with several great white sharks....

 and learned how to free dive with the sharks from Andre. Over time Rutzen learned how to adapt his posture and interpret the sharks' behaviour to avoid being attacked. He discovered that white sharks are very sensitive on the tip of the snout, due to the Ampullae of Lorenzini, and that giving them a light tap or punch there will make the predator change its course. Mike eventually opened up his own shark boat for cage diving
Shark proof cage
A shark proof cage is an extremely strong metal cage used by a SCUBA diver to safely examine dangerous types of sharks up close, such as the Great White shark or bull shark. Shark proof cages are built to withstand being rammed by large, powerful sharks. The cages provide a visual and tactile...

. His company Shark Diving Unlimited (which has a self proclaimed success rate of 99.9%) has since become the world's first to offer a PADI
Padi or PADI may refer to:* Padi, Chennai, India* Padi , a musical group* Paddy field, a type of cultivated land * Professional Association of Diving Instructors, a scuba organization...

 specialisation qualification on white sharks. He is also known to be foolhardy and slightly toolish in his actions and quotes, for example, arriving at a "great sight for breaching and predations" and saying "I just can't wait to get in the water." His life ambition is to to learn how to induce tonic immobility on a white shark to simplify research, with the ultimate goal of better understanding these animals.


He has recently appeared in his own television show for the Discovery Channel
Discovery Channel
Discovery Channel is an American satellite and cable specialty channel , founded by John Hendricks and distributed by Discovery Communications. It is a publicly traded company run by CEO David Zaslav...

. Called Sharkman, in the program he toured the world diving with different species of shark
Sharks are a type of fish with a full cartilaginous skeleton and a highly streamlined body. The earliest known sharks date from more than 420 million years ago....

s and demonstrated their tonic immobility
Tonic immobility
Apparent death, colloquially known as playing dead or playing possum, is an antipredator behavior observed in a wide range of animals in which they take on the appearance of being dead to an observer...

 reflex. Mike also starred in an episode of the BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 TV series Natural World broadcast on 2 January 2009.

He recently appeared on 60 minutes with Anderson Cooper (March 28, 2010)

He is also a living legend of Gansbaai as shown by the BBC film "A Living Legend of Gansbaai"

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.