The Sharkman meets Carl Roessler
Sharkman: How long have you been interested in sharks?
Carl: When I began diving in the 50s, sharks were little understood and therefore feared. It wasn’t until the advent of overseas dive travel in the early 70s that we began feeding them and found out that they were quite rational and therefore possible to take divers to enjoy.
Sharkman: How did this interest start?
Carl: At first, we concentrated on small colourful fish and corals in our diving. After a year or so of doing that, it was inevitable that our interest would expand to rays, turtles and sharks. In the Caribbean, we didn’t have a lot of sharks around on our reef dives. When I began going to Australia and other world-wide destinations, we saw many sharks and began to feature them on each expedition. Over the years they evolved into the centrepiece of almost every major overseas destination.
Sharkman: In what way is your work related to sharks now?
Carl: I dive with them and write about them as often as possible, always hoping to learn more. Mainly, though, I now share nearly thirty years of experience to help divers who visit my web site decide where they would like to dive. Sharks are often a key interest when they contact me.
Sharkman: How many times a year do you make these trips?
Carl: These days, I do four or five destinations each year. In past years I’d do six or seven places each year.
Sharkman: Carl, you have practically dived all over the world (except Malta). Do you have a favourite dive spot, and if yes – why?
Carl: I have often said that on any given day, there is one place that is the best in the world that day. The weather, the currents and other factors combine just right, and the diving becomes it’s best. Some places where this happens fairly often would include Papua New Guinea’s Coral Sea; Malpelo; the southern Red Sea; Socorro and Rowley Shoals in Western Australia. Those places are not overwhelmed with divers, so I like going back to them whenever I can. My favourite places are often characterised by there being one boat – the one I’m on – in a fifty-mile radius.
Sharkman: Every picture tells a story. Most of your pictures must have involved a slight level of risk. Was there ever a moment of real danger?
Carl: Diving, even diving with sharks, is not particularly dangerous. My feeling is that you have to be both unlucky and stupid to be hurt diving. My only moments of danger occurred when I pushed the envelope with big sharks in order to get better pictures. In those cases, my life-long good luck held …
Sharkman: You were one of the first to photograph the “Tiger / Ragged Toothed Shark” of Malpelo. Please tell us about this experience.
Carl: Captain Heinz of The Inzan Tiger first discovered the Tiger / Ragged-Toothed Sharks. When he first encountered them he thought they were Great Whites, but soon discovered that he had something even better. I was on the first cruise when he shared his discovery with clients. We made repeated dives at his secret seamount location, and encountered the sharks in depths of 160 to 220 feet. These are fabulously exciting animals!
Sharkman: Carl, following your first meeting with Rodney Fox, you shared many adventures together, but how did the first one come about?
Carl: Rodney had made local arrangements for the Jaws movie and several others such as Blue Water, White Death. After doing those, he and the Taylors decided that the public might enjoy the adventure. They contacted my partner and me, and we began advertising the adventure on the very day that the Jaws phenomenon took off. I took the first group to South Australia in February 1976 – and never looked back!
Sharkman: Tell us of a funny incident involving Rodney please. (He will be telling one about you ).
Carl: Rod may pick the same one I do – the time we sank a cage for the first time. We landed on the bottom with the cage flipped over on it’s side. The Great White Shark, seeing Rodney full length in the large viewing window (which looked like a door when tipped over), tried to eat him! Then we tried to raise the cage by inflating the pontoons from our regulators. We ended up roaring up through the water like a Polaris missile, and ended up crashing into the bottom of another cage!
Sharkman: Do you have a favourite shark, if yes which one and why?
Carl: The Great White Shark. There is no other shark that can inspire like the Great White. After twenty-five years, I still get as excited as a child when the time comes each Spring …
Sharkman: Which is “The Most Memorable Moment in your Career”?
Carl: I have to say that there are so many I can’t even choose one. However, the time the Great White Shark knocked the camera out of my hand and I had to sink my cage to recover it has to be among the best. I had some moments on that one, even though I was never actually in any danger.
Sharkman: Anything else you would like to add ?
Carl: My thanks to the sea gods for being so kind to me over my career. I consider myself, like the famed baseball player Lou Gehrig, “The luckiest man on the face of the Earth.”
Sharkman: Thank you Carl.