About African Shark Eco-Charters
They say that true passion is when you take what you love and turn it into your work and this is how African Shark Eco-Charters was born. We are privileged to be able to have done this. Being with the great white sharks is what we love. And we want to share this with you.
For years now we have been changing perceptions and instilling a love for great white sharks in others. Whether it be our guests, photographers or film makers, they walk away with a positive attitude and in turn pass that onto others.
We are a top shark diving company and we run the safest operation in False Bay. Our aim is for you to experience your great white shark breaching or cage diving trip in a natural environment, putting sharks first with our “first do not harm approach”, and managing our environmental footprint as much as possible. We will also not comprise your safety by going to sea in unfit conditions. We are environmentally sensitive and in 2009 we established a written environmental policy in order to manage and reduce our footprint. We provide a natural encounter with the great white sharks allowing you to observe social interactions and the natural predation behaviour on Cape Fur Seals in magnificent False Bay.
Who Is African Shark Eco-Charters?
Owned and run by shark expert Rob Lawrence, together with his wife Karen and their dedicated team in Simon’s Town, Cape Town.
- To have a passion for sharks and other marine animals, portray it and to pass it on.
- To portray sharks for what they are: Amazing Apex predators
- To be completely honest and transparent with our guests. We will correctly inform guests of latest sightings, weather and prices etc.
- To ensure the highest possible standards in the shark industry.
- To be democratic: To promote good relationships within the company between individuals’ no matter our differences in race, background, beliefs and sexual orientation.
- To be non judgmental of the different cultures of our guests.
Rob, also known as “shark legend Rob” or “Captain Rob” has been working with great white sharks for the last 20 years and has dedicated his life to the great white shark. Rob has been working with great white sharks since 1992 and has become an expert on them and their predation behaviour. First in Gansbaai, and then from 1996 has specialized in leading and operating expeditions in beautiful False Bay. Rob is one of the most experienced field persons involved in all areas of the white shark cage diving industry in South Africa. Rob has been to sea more than any shark person in the industry and has been running trips for 16 years in False Bay. He is seriously “hands on” and still goes on almost every trip.
Together with a colleague, Rob witnessed the first every recorded breach on a decoy at Seal Island. This discovery of the great white breaching and predation behaviour dubbed “AIRJAWS” has put False Bay on the map. This behaviour is seen nowhere on the planet as regularly as during our shark season and by joining us on one of our AIRJAWS trips you may be lucky enough to witness a breaching great white shark for yourself. Each year Rob and the crew at African Shark Eco-Charters works with the top film companies such as National Geographic, Discovery Channel and the BBC and can be seen documenting great white sharks that are seen on “shark week”. He has worked on over 45 documentries and his knowledge and skill is highly sought after. Rob likes it when guests ask questions. So, please, be that guest and ask as many questions as you like, or just talk “shark”, and make him a happy man!
Meet Our Team
I was born and raised in Cape Town. The ocean is deeply entrenched in my family who have a long standing history in False Bay as trek fisherman (beach net fishing) dating back to the late 1800’s. My grandfather used to tell me many fishing stories, you know the ones, when he caught a fish “this size”. From when I was a tiny boy, I spent many days playing on the beach, catching fish and I have always loved the sea. I started as a volunteer in 1992 with the White Shark Research project in Gansbaai before moving to False Bay where in 1996, we discovered the unique breaching behaviour of the great white shark. A friend and I took a small inflatable boat to Seal Island to look for sharks. We decided to tow a life jacket behind the boat. It was here when we saw our very first Great White Shark breach. I was totally “blown away” by what I saw. It was then when I knew I wanted to spend as much time as possible at Seal Island. I started working two jobs, and when enough money was saved, my friend and I bought a boat and began a company, which I still own and run called African Shark Eco-Charters, and we started taking guests to see these magnificent animals.
Karen is responsible for all the behind the scene “stuff”. “Although I can’t claim to be a shark expert, I’ve put a lot of time into growing African Shark Eco-Charters into what it is today. As a young girl, I spent a lot of time outdoors, camping in the African bush, hiking and generally growing up as a tomboy and when Rob and I are not doing shark trips, we try to explore South Africa and Botswana as much as possible”. Karen has been to almost every nook and cranny of South Africa, and if you need any “where to go advice”, ask her! Rob and Karen have 2 shark loving little children, Jordan and Adam, who are the youngest kids in the world to have to see breaching great white sharks!
Wellington is the main man with handling the shark bait and decoy. He is fully first aid trained and is a licensed SATOUR guide. He likes to name each seal decoy and is very good at judging the sharks behaviour. He is also really good at making sure the great white sharks do not eat our bait. The aim of the bait is to act as an attractant
Charl Van Der Merwe
Charl Van der Merwe is our qualified Deckhand/Dive Instructor on board African Shark Eco-Charters and was born and raised in Simons Town itself. From working as a Divemaster in False Bay to Scuba Instructor around South East Asia and Cape Town, Charl has always had a huge passion for the ocean and marine life and is always happy to share his knowledge through experience.
On-board Marine Biologist
Leigh spent time working as a Divemaster in Mozambique after which she worked as a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor during her university studies. She obtained her BSc (Honours) degree at Rhodes University and is currently completing her Master’s degree in Marine Biology at the University of Cape Town. Her research focuses on white shark and broadness sevengill sharks in False Bay. Leigh loves spending time on the ocean and has a limitless curiosity and fascination for the unpredictability and mystery that the world of working with sharks has to offer.
On-board Marine Biologist
Cat is our marine-biologist and guide. She has always had a love and obsession with sharks and dreamed of working with them her whole life. When not at the island she spends her time at the Two Oceans Aquarium with her other love, the penguins, which happen to be her focus species for her Masters research. She has a passion for all things in and on the ocean and previously worked as a guide on a marine eco-tour boat.
Abdul-Aziz aka “Poenas”
“Poenas” as known by colleagues and guests alike has been involved in the Shark Cage Diving industry and specifically False Bay’s Seal Island for the past 14 years. A born and bred Capetonian, having grown up with traditional Cape Town fishermen (trek-net fishing) on the beaches of the Southern Peninsula, sparked his interest in the oceans and sharks in particular. After witnessing the numbers of sharks that died in the “trek-nets”, Poenas vowed that as long as he was fishing this way, not another shark would die in his nets. He has worked with the oceans all his life, at one time he was employed as an observer on hake long liners documenting the number of pelagic fatalities in their pursuit of hake fishing.
Poenas has a great love of the ocean, Great White Sharks and all its creatures and has been a qualified skipper, doing what he loves for 13 years now.
Booking and Client Liaison Officer
Nadine has worked in the sales and hospitality industries all of her working life, this coupled with her love of all animals, big, small, wet and dry made her a great choice for ASEC’s booking and client liaison officer / manager. She will be the first person to greet you and process your booking, she will answer your questions and tell you what to expect, hope for and bring along! She will also take your payments at our pay station in Simons Town, after your trip.
Carmen has been involved within administration positions all her life, with family that love sharks, it was a natural progression for Carmen to find herself in love with all sharks and Great Whites in particular. She is passionate about nature, and understands the role sharks and the marine eco-system plays on all of humanity, and so is thrilled to be joining African Shark Eco-Charters, an eco-friendly, animal focused company.
Carmen will be here to greet you when you return from your weekend morning and afternoon trips, she will take payments at our pay station and will with eager enthusiasm answer all your questions, whether via email, phone or in person.