Since childhood Fred has been in contact with the sea, spending several months per year on the family’s sailboat. At the age of 10 he started freediving, and swam with his first shark at age 13. He started teaching freediving in 1991.
Fred set his first freediving world record in 1995, and between 1997 and 2000 he achieved three more. In 1999, he passed the 100m deep’s mythical barrier on one breath of air—only the eighth person to do so.
In 2002 Fred started underwater photography to show the beauties of the underwater world. All his pictures are taken while freediving, using only available light, to minimize the impact on the ecosystem.
Besides underwater imaging, Fred helps scientists with tasks such as shark tagging for telemetry studies or sampling for DNA studies. So far he successfully tagged scalloped hammerheads, great hammerheads, Galapagos sharks, lemon sharks and great white sharks.
WILLIAM WINRAM Freediver/Conservationist/Photographer/Storyteller
Born and raised in the Canadian Pacific Northwest, William is a former world champion in the sport of breath-hold diving or freediving. In June 2007 he set a world record by diving the Arch in the Blue Hole of Dahab, Egypt, without fins. A natural geological occurrence, the Arch is a submerged 30-meter long passage connecting the Blue Hole with the Red Sea at a mere 60 meters of depth.
In 2008, to help safely develop the sport in Canada, with François Leduc, William founded AIDA Canada, the Canadian freediving governing body, registered in Montreal, QC. An instructor-trainer for several diving systems, he teaches breath-hold diving classes around the world and coaches several international athletes.
Considered an expert in shark behavior, William uses his unique breath-hold diving skills and knowledge of sharks, together with friend and colleague Fred Buyle, to provide direct environmental work by tagging, photographing, filming and taking tissue samples of various species of sharks.
As a natural evolution, in 2012, he founded The Watermen Project, an NPO where breath-hold diving is at the service of ocean conservation. Recently, William was given a tremendous honour when asked to become an Ocean Ambassador for the Marine and Polar Programme of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the oldest and largest environmental NGO in the world.
William shares his time between ocean conservation and teaching while keeping a high profile in the freediving competition scene.
MICHAEL RUTZEN Freediver/Great White Shark Expert
Michael Rutzen is well known as one of the few people in the world who freedives with great white sharks. He took up working as a cage diving operator in 1994, after a career as a local fisherman. He started freediving with white sharks in 1998.
Michael has been a member of the White Shark Cage Diving Foundation since its inception. During this time he was at the forefront of developing and pioneering techniques that are now the backbone of the industry.
With Shark Diving Unlimited, he guided several world-renowned still photographers and film crews and started a series of internationally-acclaimed documentaries.
Currently Michael gives field support to all the authorized research projects on population dynamics studies, DNA and isotopes sampling programs, studies through the Marine and Coastal Management of South Africa, and was involved in satellite tagging and recent acoustic tagging.
DR. MAURICIO HOYOS PADILLA Shark Scientist
Beginning his career as a shark nursery ground and reproductive biology expert, Mauricio has always had a passion for shark conservation and has dedicated his professional life to the behaviour of sharks. Currently, his work is focused on researching behavior of 10 species of sharks in areas all across Mexico including Guadalupe Island, Revillagigedo Archipelago, Clipperton Atoll and the Mexican Caribbean. Mauricio has remained active in shark conservation outreach and education, giving talks to groups as young as elementary school children as well as high school and university students. His goal is to change the misconception of sharks in the human mind. He helped found a group of biologists who have dedicated their work to the conservation of sharks and rays in Mexican waters through research and public outreach in education. He is also a collaborating scientist on the boards of many different shark conservation foundations.
DR. CHRISTOPHER G. LOWE Shark Expert/Diver
Chris grew up on Martha’s Vineyard, where he spent a vast majority of his youth fishing and diving the waters around Cape Cod. He hails from a long line of New England fishermen and whalers, so a career around the sea just made sense. With degrees in Marine Biology and Zoology, he serves as a Professor of Marine Biology at California State University Long Beach where he runs the CSULB Shark Lab, originally founded by Dr. Donald R. Nelson. Don Nelson was a world renowned expert on shark behavior and an innovator in the use and
development of acoustic telemetry. Maintaining the CSULB Shark Lab history in innovation, Chris and his students continue the development and use of acoustic and satellite telemetry techniques to study the movement, behavior and physiology of sharks, rays and game fish. Chris and his students have been studying the baby white sharks of southern California for nine years and have greatly contributed to the field of knowledge for this enigmatic species. Some of his recent research has focused on the development of robots for autonomously tracking sharks. Lowe received the University’s Outstanding Professor Award in 2009 and Impact in Research Award in 2012.
Dr Lowe was also a script editor/consultant on the movie.