The story behind the discovery of the sharks of Seal Island, South Africa, is a very adventurous one. In the mid-1990s, as a guy in my early 20's, I had almost no money but a huge passion for wildlife--particularly large, dangerous animals. Even as a kid I was always in game parks with my dad (who was a wildlife photographer) watching and learning about the ways of Africa and hoping that someday I could take photos as spectacular as his.
When we moved close to the ocean, my interest for the African bush continued, but I began to direct more of my attention to what lived in the sea. At first I spent my time tagging smaller sharks and taking photos of them. Slowly, the sharks got bigger until one day I free-tagged a Great White Shark off one of our beaches. This began my fascination with these amazing animals--the ultimate of predators--and made me want to study them more. In the back of my mind, I wondered what, if any, sharks lived at Seal Island, and I decided to find out.
Seal Island was an area close to home and rumored to be infested with Great White Sharks, although people had only seen glimpses of the animal. No one had ever made the effort to actually go and explore the area to see if this legendary fish was actually there. In 1995, as a crazy young guy with nothing to loose, I broke the rules by taking my small, 10-foot inflatable raft five miles offshore to Seal Island to look for the infamous Great White Sharks.
Since I did not have any bait with which to attract the shark, I towed a life jacket behind our boat. The result was spectacular, to say the least, with a 3-meter Great White blasting out of the water with the jacket in its jaws. When it spat out the jacket, I tried the trick not more than 30 seconds later and got the same result--although this time a far bigger shark latched on, showing more interest in my inflatable raft than in the life jacket. I left Seal Island exhilarated. My dream to see the lord of the ocean had come true. To work with and photograph this animal was my calling in life.

Together with my partner we then formed African Shark Eco-Charters and started our operation with a small 18-foot boat that we used to take mostly backpackers to Seal Island. In the meantime, I started saving up for a good camera. In 1997, I got my first really good breach shot, which quickly hit the headlines of National Geographic, the BBC, CBS and others. At the end of last year, I met Monique le Sueur, who at the time was a top tennis player ranked in the top 500 in the world.

She too loved the outdoors and a relationship developed around our mutual interests. Together we started going to the bush and taking photographs and she quickly fell in love with all nature had to offer. As well as loving nature, she was a good photographer with an eye for perfection and together with my nature of taking risks we quickly formed a formidable team. We decided to become full-time wildlife photographers specializing in Jumping Great White Shark images, knowing that if we got the right shot (bearing in mind the notoriety of the Great White) our images would probably become among the most sought after wildlife images in the world.

In May 2000 it happened! The shot that epitomized all that people thought about sharks was captured as a big Great White blasted out of the water. That one, heart-stopping moment was captured on film and struck the imagination of all those who saw it. After we showed our photos to the Discovery Channel they sent down their top crew to produce "Air Jaws," a two-month documentary which is the longest in their history. This documentary is now the main feature for their programming in 2001. With this documentary, it is our hope to inspire others to respect the Great White, while helping them realize that all people can achieve even their most unreachable desires, if they are just willing to set their mind on their goal and pursue their dream to the fullest.

Visit Chris Fallows web site for more information on his photography and photo expeditions available.