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Kayleigh Burns – Mindset & Swimming With Great White Sharks

Content by: 180 Nutrition

Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.

Stu: This week we welcome Kayleigh Burns to the show. Kayleigh is a shark biologist and safety diver based on the North Shore of  Oahu in Hawaii. She has a passion for the ocean and currently works at One Ocean Diving where she is involved in  shark research, conservation and education.

In this episode we discuss how Kayleigh followed her dreams found her life’s purpose, and the mindset required to free-dive with great white sharks, enjoy…


Audio Version

downloaditunesListen to Stitcher Questions we ask in this episode:

  •  What advice would you offer to those of us stuck in a rut?
  • You’ve likened free-diving to meditation, has it helped you become a more mindful person?
  •  How do you mentally prepare for diving with dangerous sharks?

Get More of Kayleigh Burns

If you enjoyed this, then we think you’ll enjoy this interview:


Full Transcript

Stu

00:02 This week I’m excited to welcome Kayleigh Burns. Kayleigh is a shark biologist and safety diver based on the North Shore of Oahu in Hawaii. She has a passion for the ocean, and currently works at One Ocean Diving, where she is involved in shark research, conservation, and education.

00:19 In this episode, we discuss how Kayleigh followed her dreams, found her life’s purpose, and the mindset required to free dive with great white sharks. Over to

Kayleigh

Hey guys, this is Stu from 180 Nutrition, and I am delighted to welcome Kayleigh Burns to the podcast. Kayleigh, how are you?

00:42 Aloha. I am doing so good. How are you guys?

Stu

00:45 Very well, very well. You know, you’re the first person to ever say Aloha to me on this podcast, so I feel-

Kayleigh

00:51 It’s a very beautiful word.

Stu

00:53 It is a beautiful word, and you’re certainly in a beautiful country, so I’m super keen to talk about that in a second. But first up, for all of those that may not be familiar with you and your work, could you just tell us a little bit about yourself, please?

Kayleigh

01:08 Absolutely. So, my name is Kayleigh Burns, and I work at One Ocean Diving. I’m a shark biologist and safety diver. Our organization is located on the North Shore of Oahu, and what we do is … Yes, beautiful place in Hawaii, for those of you that aren’t familiar with the island names.

01:28 But what we do is we take people, essentially, diving with sharks every single day, but it definitely does not end there. We have shark research that we’re a part of, as well as conservation, education, and the diving, of course.

Stu

01:41 Great, fantastic. So, I’m really keen to get into understanding about how somebody has a passion in life, follows their passion, and just lives every single day with purpose, and just enjoyment that that passion brings.

01:59 So, many of us do get caught up in jobs, and life, you know, a life that we tolerate. You know, we trudge to work, we come back, we’re not that happy. How have you managed to follow your passion?

Kayleigh

02:13 Well, I often actually find that you generally, it might be necessarily to hit that low, or that routine, or that rut, if you want to call it, in order to move on to fulfilling your life’s purpose, and being very happy, and living a mindful and purpose driven life.

02:34 For me that’s how it went, anyway. I think some people can be born with that ability, but for me I think there was just a time in my life where I had hit that rut, and I was kind of like, I’m just …

02:48 It all started with a decision, I would say, just a decision that I made to be done doing what I didn’t want to do every single day when I woke up. And so, from that decision it all … And that’s why, for me, I really feel like it truly is where the mind goes, the body will follow, and it is all a part of the mental, a mental state of mind. And you have to change your mindset in order to change your physical surroundings. That’s fully what I believe.

03:14 So, when I made that decision, for me it was taking a trip. I think traveling is so important. It will expand your mind to other cultures, other ways of living. I find it also makes you grateful for what you may have at home. There’s a lot that you can realize through travel.

03:33 So, for me it was making that decision, and then I just and went to Thailand. I just decided somewhere cool, and beautiful, and funky. And I just did a lot of self reflection, and self meditating, and just …

03:44 It’s really weird, it really is simply as, for me, it was really making that decision. And then, when I came back, I just was like, okay, let me actually look into outlets, and look into things that fulfill my spirit, and make me really happy every single day to wake up and do that.

03:59 So, I decided from there to just pursue being in the ocean. That’s what I wanted to do was just be in the ocean, and be around wildlife and marine life.

04:10 So, it kind of spiraled out of there. There was, like, I could go on into details, but for me it was really just having that mindset was the first, most important thing.

Stu

04:19 Fantastic, and I guess it’s … it’s so true, when you decide to make a change, and you focus on this goal, the whole world opens up, and you start to see things ina different way. It’s a little bit like if you’re deciding to buy a new car, and you decide on the make and the model, and then that tends to be all you see on the road. Oh, there’s another car like that, there’s another car like that. So, you’re kind of unblinkered, and you started to see new things.

04:45 So, then, advice to others that are stuck in a rut, just concentrate on that goal, I guess, and just … Is that-

Kayleigh

04:54 I think for some people, too, it’s really hard, they don’t know what their goal is. So, I would say if you don’t even know that, to just take it back and start exploring with some hobbies, and with some things, and find what makes you really excited, and passionate.

05:09 And for me, personally, because I don’t even think I fully knew what that goal was either. But I looked back into childhood, and what made me really happy when I was young. I grew up watching, like, The Little Mermaid, and Free Willy, and I wanted to go to Sea World, which now I definitely don’t support. But at the time of being a child, you know, it was things in the ocean made me really excited, and really happy. And then I found that, as an adult, that ended up what was supposed to be my life’s purpose. So, that’s a really good suggestion.

05:37 Or just play around. Just have fun with it, kind of get that childlike mentality, where you’re just playing around in different hobbies, or different things going on, and maybe you’ll discover what it is that you’re supposed to be doing.

Stu

05:51 Yeah, I think so. That’s great. So, your love for the ocean, so you mentioned, stemmed from childhood. And I know that a lot of people, I mean, I spend a huge amount of time in the ocean, too. Almost, like, every day I’ll be in there. It’s a bit of a fix for me, and it’s where I … it’s almost like my meditation.

06:09 So, your love for the ocean triggered at childhood, I mean, it was an obsession? Tell me a little bit about that, please.

Kayleigh

06:17 Yeah, I don’t know, I think for a lot of people, definitely for me, the ocean is almost like space. It’s kind of unknown. I feel that I have like an explorer’s heart, or explorer spirit. So, the not knowing what’s going to happen next, or what’s going to come by, and just feeling weightless, yeah, it really does connect me, personally, with myself, with the universe, with whatever you would like to call it. But for me, it’s definitely my version of spirituality.

06:50 I’m not religious in a typical sense. I never really grabbed on to that growing up. So, for me, once I discovered this kind of newer age way of thinking about things, with universal laws, and the power of attraction, and manifesting, for me, that just really resonated.

07:06 So, being in the ocean, I feel, helps me connect with that inner consciousness. So that was very important for me, but I think it could happen for anybody in many different places. But when I, personally, enter the ocean, there could be a million things going on, on land, and they all kind of go quiet and fade away.

07:29 And I don’t think, as a child, that I really resonated in that way, I just felt a really excitement and fire kind of within me. Then, as I grew up, I realized a lot of the reason I was being brought back to that was finding that inner consciousness, and you’re so aware, and you’re so in the moment. So, you’re really in the now, which I think is a great place to kind of be, and you’re not anxious about the future, or worried about the past.

07:54 And for me, that is the ocean, especially free diving medium in particular. But that could be yoga for some people, or just taking a walk in nature, or hiking, or whatever that may be, sailing, you know, there are so many options out there.

Stu

08:08 Yeah, no, absolutely. And our listeners right now might be thinking, you know, where is this going? Like, what is this all about?

08:14 So, I would direct them, first up, to your Instagram page. And just, so, refresh me on the handle so I don’t get it wrong. So, you’re Instagram-

Kayleigh

08:24 Yeah, it’s @Mermaid_Kayleigh, and it’s a really good way to just kind of see, like, what I’m doing, and there’s even going to be ways for other people to get involved in stuff like that. We’re going to start offering expeditions, where people can come join us on diving. So, stuff like that will be really fun, and kind of follow along with that.

Stu

08:44 So, yeah, I would definitely point our listeners to that first. And then I think they might be a little shocked in what they see, in that, yes, there’s a whole heap of free diving stuff in there. But then, of course, there’s the recent great white shark stuff as well, that we’ll get into shortly, which is like oh, my word. You’ve taken your passion from watching The Little Mermaid when you were a young girl all the way to diving with these great white sharks, which are typically deemed as monsters.

09:12 So, before we get into that, talk about your free diving, because I’m into free diving as well, and it’s just such an amazing … it’s just an amazing sport that takes you into this whole new world. I know that you’ve likened it to meditation, and I completely see that. Has it helped you to be a more mindful person on ground, on dry land, as well?

Kayleigh

09:40 I hope so. I know, definitely, when I’m there I’m in the moment. But it does make me care a lot more as well, because even if you’re practicing something like every day, for example, yoga, or if you like to lift weights, or if you like to ride bikes, anything like that, it is going to carry into your life. Because you’re more … for me, I’m more conscious about what I eat, or just working out, having an overall healthy lifestyle.

10:04 You know, I would never smoke, I would never do anything to affect my lungs or my body, because I want to be better at free diving. And I’m not professional by any means. I have a lot of respect for people that do competitions, and maybe one day I would get into that side. But right now I kind of just do it for fun, and as a hobby.

Stu

10:24 Great. And so, tell us about the training, then, that you would go through, because it does put … puts a fair amount of pressure on, I guess, physically, and mentally as well. So, what do you do to prepare for that?

Kayleigh

10:39 And so, for those who don’t know, free diving is just diving down on a single breath, under the water. And it’s amazing because people can go at these extraordinary depths, hundreds of feet, that you would never imagine. So, look into it if this is your first time hearing about it, because it’s absolutely incredible.

10:56 And you actually can see throughout history, and throughout various cultures, and even other mammals, we all have a mammalian dive reflex. So, it’s kind of like we’re meant to almost be able to use this ability. It’s like a superpower, I like to think of it, which is really cool.

11:11 And just like anything else, the more that you practice, the better that you’re going to be, which is also, just like anything else, just like yoga or riding a bike, you know, the more that you practiced it, the better at it you’re going to be.

11:22 So, if anybody really wants to get into it, I would definitely suggest, for safety reasons, and to be doing it correctly, and doing it right, and doing it safely, and all of that, you should take a course. That’s, personally, what I did, and that helped me a lot. You have people that are safetying you. You know, blacking out under water when you’re holding your breath for those lengths can definitely happen. You never want to go out alone, you know, it’s always best to have a dive buddy, and a dive buddy that knows what to do, and what signs to look for.

11:50 But training, for me, was taking the courses, and I was actually so surprised at how that went down. I’ve taken about three different courses now. And with my first course I was shocked, because on one single breath, first course, hardly any experience, I was able to get down to over 65 feet, or something like that. So, that was-

Stu

12:09 Boy, oh boy.

Kayleigh

12:10 Yeah, that’s like what, essentially, everybody has the ability to do, just naturally, on your own, with certain breathing techniques. So, you can actually just train your body, and your heart rate, to slow down, which is really amazing in this fast paced world.

12:23 That’s another reason I like to kind of compare it to meditation, because you’re really connecting with your body. You’re really slowing down. You’re really slowing down your heart rate, and you’re just so present, and in the moment to moment. And the more that you can train your brain not to panic and be like, I need to breathe right now! I’m going to jump up to the surface! You know, you get better and better at it, and it’s a really great way to just connect.

12:46 So, I was surprised that I was able to go down so deep. And again, I’m not professional, because there are people that can do this way better, and way longer, than I can. But my personal bests are just holding my breath for three minutes and diving down to about 100 feet. So, I really look forward to furthering that in the future. But like I said, for me it’s kind of just a hobby, and just for fun.

Stu

13:12 Brilliant. We had a guy on the show last year called Stig Severinsen, and he was a … he holds world records for this kind of stuff as well. And it’s really interesting in that he just likened the stuff that he was doing in his free diving to everyday life. And he said, “When I get stressed,” he said, “I’m just … I go back into the zone, and I start my breathing, and things just seem to be a lot more chilled out after I do that.” So, fantastic. Yeah, definitely, definitely something to liken, I think from the practices that you do when you’re free diving.

13:45 Now, so much to see when you’re down there, obviously loads of fish, and a whole heap of different types of marine creatures. So, let’s talk about the sharks then, because again, if people jump onto your Instagram page, they’re going to see some crazy things.

14:04 A couple of years ago I did a cage dive in South Australia with some great white sharks, and they were huge sharks, four or five of them, swimming around. And as big as they were, and some were four or five meters in length, like, these were huge, huge sharks, and we spent half an hour in the water with these sharks, I came away feeling like they weren’t anywhere near as much as a threat as I had initially thought.

14:35 And I thought, you know what? And this may sound really ridiculous, but I thought I would almost not fear for my life if I was in the water with these sharks. They were so-

Kayleigh

14:45 Yeah, you feel like you could go out of the cage and you’d be fine.

Stu

14:48 Absolutely. Absolutely right.

Kayleigh

14:49 Yeah.

Stu

14:50 And I know that Steven Spielberg has got a lot to answer for, and, you know, all of the shark movies there, which portray these things as just flesh eating

15:00 … and machines. And if people jump onto your Instagram they’ll say, “What on Earth are you doing?” Tell us about some of the biggest misconceptions around sharks. Because we live … well you’re in Hawaii, I’m in Australia. We’ve got a big following in the States as well. There are heaps of sharks around us if we are into the ocean. What have been taught and what do you think is a misconception?

Kayleigh

15:31 Yeah, that is definitely one of our aims at One Ocean Diving, if not our most important aim, is to just change perceptions about these animals. Unfortunately it all started with Jaws, but it hasn’t stopped from there. Honestly, if you haven’t been in the position to meet a shark for yourself or totally grown up around the ocean, which I hadn’t either being from Philadelphia, the Jersey Shore isn’t exactly the most inviting and clear and beautiful water when warm that you want to drive off.

15:59 I didn’t necessarily grow up with any thought of sharks or any love or adoration for them. That definitely came later once I met them. Because if you only ever see sharks from the media, and major motion pictures are out there reaching hundreds of millions of people around the globe and their Jaws, Shark Week, the Swallow, Sharknado, 47 Meters Down, and everything like that. And it’s not the truth about the animals. It’s just for ratings. It’s just for excitement because I mean seeing sharks is absolutely beautiful, but it’s definitely more like a meditation than thrilling kind of thing. It’s usually less of an adrenalin rush and more of a calming tranquil experience, which people don’t really, they wouldn’t expect it. If you even just look at the covers of these movies, they look like demonized maneaters.

16:51 What we like to put out there, like these images that we so often do at One Ocean Diving, we’re aiming to show hey, that’s fake news. This is the reality of the situation is that we can coexist or how would we be doing this here for so many years and a 100% perfect safety record and no threat and just gliding along with these animals totally cruising.

17:17 We’ve kind of been engrained that, but what’s really amazing that I found from actually taking people diving is that people will be very nervous, and you can tell it’s just because of media. And they know that, and it’s really cool because they’re like okay, I know this can’t be the reality. I see what you guys are doing, and I don’t want to just take the news … the news is often wrong so I don’t want to just take their word for it. I want to go out. I want to figure it out for myself, and I want to see what’s going on.

17:45 At first you can see the body language. They’re real stiff and a little anxious and you could see they’re short of breath, and then they get in the water and then after a little while it just starts to melt away and they just become really relaxed and then they want to try driving down. They want to get closer, and they feel comfortable. It really is just have to see a shark I think a lot of times for yourself or actually watch documentaries that are not overly dramatizing and really on the education and what’s really going on with the sharks, and the reality is, I always like to quote this one because it’s so, so rare for something negative to happen from a shark onto a person.

18:25 Literally around the whole globe, and if you can even fathom the amount of people that must be entering the water every single day and how many times sharks are avoiding the people and just nope, not food, and totally moving on about their day. They don’t get credit for that. They only get credit for the negative things that are so rare that you’re actually more likely to be bitten by New Yorker than shark, and that is a 100% truth statistic. It’s like humans, we’re killing our own kind way more often than sharks are. I mean even mosquitoes and a falling coconut has a way higher chance of killing you. Even being struck by lightning. The list goes on, and we’re giving sharks this bad reputation for no reason. They’re just doing what they’re supposed to do in their role in that ecosystem as a 1predator.

Stu

19:13 Yeah. It is amazing when you look at those stats as well. I looked at a stat today in Australia, and I think it was you’ve got a one in eight million chance of being bitten by a shark, which is the same as being bitten by a kangaroo, yet people don’t see a kangaroo-

Kayleigh

19:27 Oh they would would terrify me. Yeah. They punch. They have skills.

Stu

19:31 They do. You don’t want to get into a fistfight with a kangaroo that’s for sure. Cool.

Kayleigh

19:37 I would be running.

Stu

19:37 Tell us a little bit about your recent [inaudible 00:19:45] when you went down and free dove with the great white shark, and that’s the one people see, I think, on Instagram and across the media right now.

Kayleigh

19:52 Yeah.

Stu

19:52 What was it about? How did you prepare for it? And how did it play out?

Kayleigh

19:59 For me it was actually my first time swimming with a great white as well, which is just mind boggling because you would think that at least I would have gone in a cage with one before. I just kind of just skipped right to the wild open-ocean kind of thing, which is amazing because I had the guidance of our co-founders at One Ocean Diving, Ocean Ramsey and Juan Oliphant, who are amazing and everyone should check those guys out. They’re on Instagram as well, Juan Sharks and Ocean Ramsey. And they have taught me everything I know as well. A huge shout out to those guys.

20:29 But they’ve also worked really, really closely with great whites in Isla Guadalupe, Mexico. They have heaps of experience and also have done a lot of tagging and a lot of research with one of their mentors, Dr. [Marissia Hoia 00:20:40]. I know that I was in the best hands. And I definitely let them go in the water first once we came upon this great white, which was just amazing because it’s so rare to actually get to experience a great white in Hawaii. They are extremely rare. They like deeper, they like colder waters, but there was a dead whale carcass in the general vicinity, and we were there to monitor and document behavior amongst tiger sharks, which is something that we see … We have a lot of experience with tiger sharks, which are also a very large species of shark.

21:11 We’re just monitoring these guys and watching the behavior and seeing if any of our locals and ID’d tiger sharks are coming up and things like that. That was really cool, and then we never would have imagined. We were already just excited to see the behavior amongst the tiger sharks competing, because they’re a very nomadic species and generally very shy so we don’t get to see them interact on that level typically. We were already excited, and then you would never believe just the size of this animal that decided to approach our boat. She was about 22 feet long. I’m sorry, I’m so bad with meters. But she was about 22 feet long, just huge, and about the girth of our boat as well. That phrase I’m going to need a bigger boat was actually relevant at this time. But it wasn’t in an aggressive way at all. It was totally chilled out, and she was fully calm in demeanor and very curious yet cautious about our presence as well.

22:07 They got in and they confirmed yes great white, and I followed in just right after them. And I thought I would be nervous because again first great white and everything like that. Being with the pros though, I was like okay, they’ll have my back. They’ll take care of me. But it was really good. Because once I got in I saw her demeanor, and it did not seem … I was not nervous. Not scared for one second. Which is incredible. I would have been more scared of smaller, spunkier sharks in that moment.

22:35 I would like to say that I don’t think it’s safe for just anyone to jump in the water in this situation. I think it’s really important, we’ve been studying these animals for a really long time. Even I who dive with sharks every single day was like okay, let me learn from the people that have more experience than me. I think it’s really important to have that respect because they are apex predators and they are wild animals. That’s not what we’re suggesting here. But we are professionals, and we are able to read the body language and the behavior of the animals, which is really great. And she was very chilled out.

23:05 This particular individual, and this wouldn’t necessarily happen with every single great white, but she was very relaxed because she had probably likely been feeding on this dead whale over the course of the entire night. Also probably pregnant. Her size alone, I mean any ladies out there that are about nine months pregnant or eight months pregnant, you’re not going to want to go get in a fistfight. You’re lazy, you want to sit around. You probably just want to hang out. Just eat, cruise. That was kind of how I could relate it. She just did not seem aggressive at all. She just wanted to come up, search for her dead whale so she could feed, and she would go back down to cool off for a little bit, which was really neat, and then come back up.

23:46 It was very slow. I literally think I would have had to put my arm down her throat if I wanted to be bit by this shark. That’s how relaxed and mellow, just to try to describe it to you. That’s how relaxed and mellow she was. It was a very beautiful experience.

Stu

24:02 Unbelievable.

Kayleigh

24:02 It was not scary at all.

Stu

24:04 My word. Well, the photography just does it justice, specifically from a size perspective as well because when you see the small frames of the divers in comparison to this huge, huge, amazing-looking creature, it’s just awe inspiring. It really is. There’s something quite magical.

24:29 Did you make any preparations for that particular dive that you wouldn’t normally have done to get in the water?

Kayleigh

24:37 It was fully unexpected so I think I was just making sure I was even more hyperaware because it was a new species for me. I was looking around a lot more. Looking behind me. And that’s the thing, a lot of people don’t think when you’re swimming with a shark that you have to worry, but there will likely be other sharks as well. It’s really important to look behind you, and just know because they are very shy so they will approach from behind. They do respond a lot to eye contact. One of our main roles is to give that eye contact to the animals and look behind you, and just have a general awareness when you’re swimming with sharks because if there’s one shark in the area likely there’s going to be more because they’re probably brought in for a specific reason.

25:21 It’s really important for surfers out there, especially to look around even before you get in the water and are you near a harbor mouth opening or a river mouth. A lot of that runoff can cause a lot of the sharks to come in because they’re smelling the fishermen cutting open their catch and fileting their fish and stuff like that. Look around [is there spear 00:25:43] fisherman? Is the water murky? These guys rely heavily on eye contact. Try to swim in groups or surf in groups. Stuff like that is really important.

25:51 I think all that was going through my head of okay, where am I? What am I doing? And do I have my eye on the shark? Are there any other sharks? And then the most incredible thing happened with us on that dive is that dolphins showed up. Once I saw that dolphins came, it was almost comical because here’s this massive great white and a bunch of humans and dolphins just having a good ‘ol time swimming with her. If that shows anything about the demeanor of these animals, I think the dolphins really wanted to change the perceptions as well.

Stu

26:19 Yeah, wow. That’s fantastic. Unbelievable. If we find ourselves in a situation where we do encounter a shark in the water. And I’m guessing that your advice might be different, there are so many different types of sharks with different behavioral patterns as well. Is there a general rule of thumb of the way that we should act? Because we have been told historically that we might punch the shark on the nose. And I’ve read about reducing your vertical profile. What should we do in this instance?

Kayleigh

26:56 Yeah, and again, there are ways to prevent it ahead of time. I will just quickly touch on that. Before you’re going to get in the water, and unfortunately what usually happens when there is a negative interaction with people and sharks, it’s typically surfers unfortunately because what will happen is these larger shark species like tiger sharks and great white sharks will look up, and often times the water can be a little bit murky, especially around the waves where it’s all churning up the bottom and the sand. What will happen is these larger sharks are looking for their prey, potentially smelling their prey around because there could be fishermen or again a harbor mouth or something like that. And they look up and these surfers look like a seal or look like a turtle. If you actually look at the photos of comparison, for a shark, and especially in murky water if they’re smelling food, I mean it’s not that surprising. It’s actually surprising it doesn’t happen more often. But, of course, it is very heart wrenching and a terrible experience when it does happen. Our heart for sure goes out to all of those victims. But it’s just the sharks doing what they’ve programmed for over hundreds of millions of years to do is to remove those types of animals out of the equation of the ecosystem of the food web.

28:05 Anyway, if you are a surfer, please look around. Try not to surf near harbor’s mouths or river mouth. Look around. Are people fishing? Are people spearfishing? Is the water murky? Is there groups of people out here? Strength in numbers. Try not to wear anything brightly colored. Whites and yum-yum yellow because they are relying heavily on the vision so the dark is going to blend in just a little bit more. If you have something yellow and kind of splashing around it does look a little bit more intriguing where they want to go and check it out. It’s a little disturbance and interesting so they at least want to go check it out. They don’t have have hands so they might feel with their mouth, and at that point it is a sad, unfortunate thing that can happen.

28:47 If you are in the area, for example like Hawaii, it would be really rare to see a great white. With tiger sharks would be Hawaii. Or if you’re in an area where you know there’s tiger sharks, you don’t want to swim around or surf around an area where there could be green sea turtles hanging out because then you’re entering their zone. You also look like one of them. As well as you want to look alive because that species, and you hit the nail on the head when you said every single species is different. But with a tiger, you would want to look alive. You wouldn’t want to look like you’re dead floating there. Maybe in between sets kind of paddle around purposefully. Not splashing but kind of purposefully. Maybe even with a great white zone or even tiger sharks, pick your feet up on your board if you can if that’s an option. Just get them out of the water and that way hopefully they won’t mistake it.

29:39 With tiger sharks, they have a very broad head, so you can put your hand down actually leverage your body overtop. They are very sensitive near the gills so that would be an area you could put pressure on that would really scare them away really quickly. Around their gills and around their eye. Not that I ever can recommend punching a shark, but that is a very sensitive area of these guys.

30:02 If there’s a sighting of a great white, just don’t go out, when in doubt don’t go out.

Stu

30:07 Yeah.

Kayleigh

30:07 It’s always the motto. It’s not worth it, it’s not worth your life, your friends life or the shark’s reputation, because again they’ve just been around so long doing what they’re supposed to be doing, they’re supposed to remove whatever’s underneath of them in the food web to keep everything else in balance as well, so-

Stu

30:27 Got it.

Kayleigh

30:27 Yeah, yeah, they’re just doing what they’re supposed to do.

Stu

30:30 And over the past two or three years it’s become very popular, I’ve seen at least in Australia, for people to start wearing banded clothing, put tape on the bottom of their surf board and I think they liking it to the banded sea snake as well, which apparently is a deterrent. Is that a myth, or is there any truth to that?

Kayleigh

30:54 We’re still testing that out as well, it’s really hard to fully test things like that and get actual scientific data that will fully prove that this works or does not work, because every situation is just so different and the environments always changing, and it really just depends on what’s going on around you, like we were just talking about. But I would say definately give it a try, we have some really cool ones goin on here at One Ocean Diving what was designed by Ocean Ramsey and we have a whale shark print one, and we have a tiger shark print, we wear the wets suits. So In think they’re really, they potentially could definately work and it’s worth a try, and why not try everything that you can?

31:36 We have tested out some of the shark bands, inconclusive right now on if those work, they give out a certain electrical output that the sharks could detour, but it is a case by case basis and a species by species basis, so it’s just very hard to fully determine that. But I would say the best way for a lot of surfers to maybe overcome their fear of sharks is just actually get into the water with these guys and with a guided professional go see the shark, introduce yourself, understand them a little bit more, learn about the behavior, their experience, because just as even you said, once you got to see them, even if you were in a cage and even if they want to do it in a cage, you can kind of like at least combat your fear. Face your fear a little bit and it might help you understand how they work.

Stu

32:21 Excellent.

Kayleigh

32:21 So, that’s really good advice too.

Stu

32:23 No, that’s good to hear and I was intrigued to hear your thoughts in about the shark detectors as well, because I’ve got some friends around town that are spear fishermen and they wear them and that is their insurance. But you said the juries not out on that as yet, is that right?

Kayleigh

32:43 Yeah, it’s different for every species and also maybe what’s going on with the shark at that time. Some shark species cannot eat for months at a time, so if you’re spear fishing, I mean, you are a predator and entering that predator’s ecosystem. You’re essentially like a hunter on the Savanna with the lion, so you need to understand that responsibility. I have so much admiration too for spear fishermen as well, because it’s the most sustainable way if you are going to get seafood, it’s actually go out there and harvest your own food, so I think as long as you’re within the limits in catching fish that are fully mature and things like following those regulations I think it’s fine. But you do have to take that responsibility on hey, I’m now putting the food out there of an apex predator-

Stu

33:25 Yeah.

Kayleigh

33:25 Fish blood is what they will respond to, not really human blood or some mammals, they won’t really respond to, but with fish blood they will generally respond, so you just need to know, you know? And take some courses, go out and meet the sharks, so you can kind of see how they will behave and maybe what to do in these situations, but again with the tiger shark it’s really good, push down on the nose in general. If you push kind of up to push the shark away, could drop the jaw, they could open their mouth and that could be a more dangerous situation. So you can always push down, we like to call like a shark Heisman, you’ll put your hand out, just kind of leverage your body over the animal-

Stu

34:00 Got it.

Kayleigh

34:01 Yeah, so it’s little things like that, but if that shark hasn’t eaten in months and they’re really desperate, you know they might bypass that deterrent and just be desperate enough to go for the food, so.

Stu

34:13 Right, right.

Kayleigh

34:14 It’s hard when you’re spear fishing, that’s the one thing, like that’s the yeah.

Stu

34:18 Yeah, no I can absolutely see. I went out with a couple of friends of mine only last week and just followed them around and went down and you realized that you’re catching fish, there’s blood in the water, there is a risk there.

Kayleigh

34:34 And get them out too, get the fish out like if you can. A lot of people put them around their waist which is just like where you don’t want to have that, you know at that point?

Stu

34:44 No.

Kayleigh

34:44 If you can keep a buoy with you and keep them fresh and just keep them out of the water, even just away from you if you do have to have them in the water, not attached to you.

Stu

34:52 Yeah.

Kayleigh

34:52 Because then you’re kind of asking for it at that point.

Stu

34:55 Exactly right. That’s good advice. Strategies then for those of us who live by the ocean, we’ve got a love of the water, but this strange fear of sharks, that’s probably been pre-programmed by the media. And I’ve got a whole heap of friends that they won’t swim out far, because they just got this huge fear of sharks. But and everything that we’ve spoken about today would provide like a counter argument to a lot of that stuff as well. But any simple strategies, tips, technics, advice that you’d want to share to those people who just have this strange, innate fear of sharks?

Kayleigh

35:35 I would say first educate yourself, there’s some amazing documentaries that I’d like to mention and they will also highlight what the real play of the animals, like shark finning and shark fin soup, on which we can touch on again, but some documentaries I would recommend would be Shark Water, Racing Extinction, Mexico Pelagico and our organization is coming out with one called Saving Jaws. If you follow our Instagram at One Ocean Diving, you should be able to be up to date and that should be out on Amazon later within the year is the goal.

36:08 That will all open your eyes to the animals, because I think education is really key and then again, this sounds too simple for people to believe it, but when you’re in the ocean just look around, and with sharks that’s 90% of the whole battle, like 99% practically. Is just looking around and making that eye contact with any animals that come up, let them know that you see them, that you’re aware of them, kind of ready to greet them and that is so much of the thing with diving with sharks, because they really are polite predators, as we like to call them. And with that eye contact, they will look at you as an equal apex predator, so it’s really important to assert yourself in that manner, and it doesn’t mean going up and punching the shark or kicking the shark or anything like that.

36:50 But just giving that eye contact and having that general awareness is so important and then that will probably make the person feel a lot better too if they like hey, I know what’s going on all around me, so then they can make an educated decision to stay in the water or get out of the water. But unfortunately it’s really rare to see sharks, so I wouldn’t tell anybody to really expect to see a shark if they’re going to enter the water.

Stu

37:10 Yeah.

Kayleigh

37:10 Their populations are really far down, so it’s becoming increasingly more rare to have the privilege of swimming with a shark.

Stu

37:19 Yeah, absolutely. No, that’s good advice. I think it’s just about education, isn’t it? And as I’ve been exposed over the years living in Australia to so many different types of sharks, then went shark diving and spear fishing and all of that kind of stuff and watched so many movies and documentaries that are openly and readily available, you do get a very, very different perspective and sense of how these creatures exist and interact with us as well. Yeah, so I think it’s one of those things, it’s one thing to watch Jaws, freak yourself out, it’s another thing to go do a little bit of homework and really understand what’s happening out there.

Kayleigh

37:59 Absolutely.

Stu

38:01 So look, we’re just coming up on time, before we get into a few of the wrap up questions is there anything you wanted to share from your end in terms of shark conservation, or any other sites that you might want us to look at to raise our awareness?

Kayleigh

38:17 Yeah absolutely, so I don’t know if a lot of people out there know about this, I know it is still a lot of people are discovering or hearing about it for the first time, because I pretty much talk to people about this every day and there are still a lot of people that haven’t heard about sharking finning and shark fin soup. So I think that’s really important just to mention and for all of us to do a little bit more research on that, but what essentially happens is there’s a dish called shark fin soup that’s really poplar in Asian cultures, Asian countries. Originated in China and thought to be a nutritional, or medicinal purposes which scientifically has been proven false, actually you really want to stay away from eating shark, because it has high levels of mercury and other heavy metals and toxins and you really don’t want to ingest that, it can cause a lot of problem with mercury poisoning.

39:03 So you really want to stay away from that, but what happens all around the world and especially third world countries is that fishermen will pull in the animal, sometimes slice off just the fins and throw them back over, so they’re only taking about five to ten percent of their body and killing the sharks and ship the fins to Asia. This is a global responsibility, because the finning happens all over the world and some countries that even have banned shark finning, like the US still will import and export the fins. So it’s really important to know what’s going on in your local government and what the laws are and use your voice to try to put an end to that, whether it’s signing a petition or writing in to your local law makers or go into these meetings.

39:45 It’s really, really important as well as for Australia, they’re really important key facts with you guys over there is that in Indonesia is where the number one exporter of shark fins is around the world and what’s happened is they’ve basically depleted now they’re and I’ll, if anybody wants to see some images on this, or look into it there is one of my really good friends in shark in conservationist Cory [Gars 00:40:11], her Instagram is Koko Cuvier. Koko with a K, it should pop up, but you’ll see some of the images from this exact location. And what’s happened now is that they’ve depleted all the shark populations around Indonesia, so they actually go out as far as the Australian coast, all along your guys coastline and are now killing sharks in that area, which will have a direct reflection and effect on your, the health of you oceans in that area, because everything’s connected, whether it’s the predator, or the smallest bit of plankton. We need every link in that food chain.

40:47 So you guys might want to look more into that and kind of know what’s going on, because they’re going right outside of your guys waters essentially and international waters and are now taking sharks that are just coming directly off of Australia, because they’re getting a little bit more desperate. So the finning’s happening all around the world, I would say the best thing people can do is all the things I mentioned, use your voice and speak up, learn more about it and really spread the word. If you know anyone that is from any of these Asian cultures and countries have them pledge not to consume the soup. If we can kind of stop it at the demand, then I think that would make a really huge effect-

Stu

41:24 Yeah.

Kayleigh

41:25 Going forward, so just spread, talk as much as you can, use your voice, speak up for the animals, they don’t have a voice to do so.

Stu

41:31 No, that’s right, absolutely and I guess when you’re looking at learning more about this as well, you’re going to see a whole bunch of videos of these sharks being pulled up alive, de-finned and then just plucked back in the water to die and it is so barbaric and that picture is so powerful as well. I’ve still gon this in my mind eye, watched so many documentaries about this that it’s just insane to think that we can actually do that to a living creature.

Kayleigh

42:02 Yeah.

Stu

42:02 So yeah, absolutely well look, thank you. Thanks so much for all of your information today. It really, really keen on just sharing this, certainly from a mind set perspective all the way through to the conservation of this species and your passion to be able to do that as well. So, what’s next? What have you got in the pot plan, what are you up to?

Kayleigh

42:25 Very exciting travels for this year where we hope to also open up some expeditions as well for anybody that would want to join us. But we’re going to some remote areas in French Polynesia that should have lots of sharks.

Stu

42:38 Oh wow.

Kayleigh

42:39 So hopefully some healthy populations out there. And yeah, just keep on the look out and keep following us.

Stu

42:46 Will do and so how can we get more, how can we get more of Kayleigh Burns and everything that you’ve spoken about today?

Kayleigh

42:52 So you can definately follow my Instagram, which is at mermaid Kayleigh. I also have a website it’s farawayseas. com or in general you can just follow One Ocean Diving, we have a lot of fun amazing projects with the whole Once Ocean diving team, whole One Ocean conservation where a group of amazingly passionate people, so please, please, please follow us and of course our co-founder is [Juan 00:43:16] in ocean and be for a lookout for that documentary, because that will be really exciting, great way to learn as well.

Stu

43:21 Fantastic. Kayleigh you have been an inspiration. Thank you so much for your time and I cannot wait to share this with our audience.

Kayleigh

43:29 Thank you so much.

Stu

43:30 All right, thank you.

180 Nutrition

This article was curated by 180 Nutrition who were founded in March 2010 with the goal to offer the very best in natural health supplements and resources. The passionate team are aligned with leading health and wellness professionals including nutritionists, naturopaths, functional medicine and exercise specialists. They regularly connect with... Read More
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