Craig Ferreira

Great White Shark Expert: Craig worked for the White Shark Research Project of the SA Natural History Museum from 1990 to 1995 as Operations Director. He was part of the team that had the white shark protected in 1991. From 1995 to 2007 he was director of the South African White Shark Research Institute. In 1998 he established White Shark Projects and in 2007, White Shark Africa. He is a world figure in the arena of white shark research, white shark attack and marine conservation.

Research: In 1995 Craig published the first peer reviewed paper on The Population Dynamics of White Sharks in Southern Africa. He ran a joint blood sampling project with the University Of Akron, Ohio and a Mitochondrial DNA project with the University of Aberdeen.

Craig developed and refined a number of pioneering research and data collecting techniques and holds the distinction of being the first person to attach a camera to a free swimming white shark. He is the only person to extract blood from free swimming white sharks and he is the only person to have captured free swimming white sharks without fishing gear.  

He has been team leader on three groundbreaking, international white shark exploration expeditions.
Media: Craig has featured in numerous international documentaries, including the most expensive Discovery Channel Shark film ever made. He has featured on National Geographic, BBC Wildlife, Discovery Channel and The History Channel. He is on Discovery Channels list of preferred Shark Men.

Craig has written and featured in numerous articles from around the globe. He has spoken on radio and is frequently called upon as an adviser for new shark documentaries. He is featured in a number of shark books.

Accolades: In 1998 Craig was Star of the UK Dive Show. Perhaps his most proud recognition of his work came from The Royal Geographic Society when they invited him as guest of honor and speaker.

Speaking: Craig is both an academic and international, professional corporate speaker. He has lectured around the globe; including the universities of Cambridge, London and Stockholm.

As a professional inspirational, business and human performance speaker, he has spoken in Africa, Europe, North America and Asia. His expertise include Human Motivation, Adaption and Understanding Fear.

Craig believes that humans have infinite potential to perform beyond self-imposed limitations. He believes it requires awareness and understanding of these limits in order to transcend them and work on a higher level. In his personal experience and in observing his teams, he has grown to understand human behavior in extreme environments.

White sharks are large and potentially dangerous animals. They live in a foreign and challenging environment and in his work with these animals, Craig is able to draw interesting correlations to human and corporate performance.

Writing: Craig has written three books. The Shark, Great White Sharks on Their Best Behavior and Rich Mind – Rich Life. He co-authored One Goal, Many Paths and contributed to The Biology of Carcharadon Carcharias. As a prolific author, he has just completed Vatican Blood and is working on a series of books on human performance.  
Sailor: As part of his quest for understanding human performance and motivation and also the realizing of a dream, Craig has sailed around the world with his family on their forty five foot catamaran.

Craig’s Talks

Craig is a prolific key note speaker who is comfortable with any audience. He specializes in human performance and has designed three talks which cover both separate and interrelated subjects.

The presentations are:
1.    Adapt or Die – Why Sharks Don’t Go Hungry.
2.    Driven – What Motivates People?
3.    Four Principals for Success.

Adapt or Die – Why Sharks Don’t go Hungry.

Adaption is the process by which an organism becomes better. It is also defined as adapting: the process or state of changing to fit a new environment or different conditions, or the resulting change.

In this presentation we look at the white sharks extraordinary ability to adapt. I draw parallels between the white shark and how we react to change. Why is adaption important in our environment, do we have the ability to adapt, are we aware of the importance of adaption, why do we resist change, how can we embrace change and what are the advantages of being able to adapt, are the questions explored.

An inability to adapt has been to the detriment and even the downfall of many organizations. Companies like Pan Am, TWA, Nokia, Yahoo and Firestone have lost profit, market share, value and even gone bankrupt because they did not adapt to a changing environment. Other companies such as Starbucks, Netflix, Google, Apple and Amazon have managed to adapt and prosper.

Adaption is a natural and unavoidable principle of survival, whether you are a white shark, a small company or a multi-national corporation. The white shark is able to learn.  Its range and prey spectrum demand learning and without this ability, the species will not survive. The white shark selects strategies to fit the environment and its objectives. It experiments to determine the best strategies and it thinks outside of the box to identify variation which works.

Are we aware of the need to adapt, are we aware of the inherent power of adaption and are we able to adapt?

Driven – What Motivates People?

Some years ago we took on a young man named Mandla, for a two week trial period. You see, he wanted to work for us, but working with white sharks on the ocean is not for everyone. It takes a certain kind of person and I expect my teams to work at their absolute highest levels. This is why he was on a two week trial period. We wanted to see if he could perform at the levels we expect, at sea in a working environment. Ten days into his trial period, Mandla dived into the ocean to wrestle a chum bag that had come adrift from a circling great white shark. Mandla could not swim and he was in the ocean with a great white shark, risking his life so we had to rescue him.

I have observed, with great fascination, how my staff, interns and volunteers have gone way beyond the call of duty and performed at extraordinary levels, even under challenging conditions. What drives these people, what makes them tick, what is it that allows them to step up to the plate, even when the challenges are tough? These are the questions I have explored and the answers are intriguing.

Motivation is a phenomenally powerful force and if we understand our personal drive and that of the people around us, we can tap into it and function at our best. On the other hand, if we do not understand motivation, we can waste time, energy and resources in flogging the proverbial dead horse.

Human beings are the most complex entities in the known universe. We are individuals from different backgrounds, cultures, upbringings and religious or spiritual affiliations. What works for one person does not necessarily work for another. The art is to understand this fact and to become adept in learning what really motivates us.

Traditional business wisdom has a simple approach to performance. Employ somebody to do a job and then pay that person to do it. If you want the job done better or faster then pay the person more. This may work in a narrow band of bread crumb activity however it does not work in most business environments, especially when even rudimentary cognitive input is required. In fact, science proves that motivation is far more complex than the traditional stick and carrot approach.

Unless you understand what really motivates people, what drives them as individuals, you will never enjoy the satisfaction of seeing them performing at their best. Without the correct approach to motivation your efforts may have zero effect or even be counterproductive.   

Four Principles of Success.

Great white sharks are large, powerful and potentially dangerous animals. The environment they live in, is from our perspective, alien, hostile, infinitely dynamic and dangerous. It is an environment where the margin for error is often small or nonexistent and where mistakes can result in injury or even death.

Working in this arena is often challenging, however I have learnt that by incorporating simple principles, we can overcome challenges and accomplish high levels of performance. I was the first person in the world to attach a camera to a free swimming white shark, we were the first team to ever take blood from free swimming white sharks and we are the only team to have live captured white sharks without fishing gear.

These are some of our accomplishments and in looking back, our successes have been due to these principals - knowledge, preparation, adaptability and focus.  

These principles may seem obvious, but they are not and they are often overlooked. Knowledge gives us a solid grounding to proceed, for without knowledge or mastery, we cannot accomplish our objectives. It is the depth and scope of this knowledge which determines the outcome.

An integral aspect of knowledge is preparation. Knowledge and preparation go hand in hand and we use our depth of knowledge to help prepare for our goal.

In pursuing our goals we may face unexpected challenges, thus the need for adaption. We can only adapt if we have the knowledge and preparation to work from.

Focus is knowing where we have been, where we are now and where we want to go. Focus is the ability to reach our goal and of course, the better prepared we are and the more knowledge we possess, the clearer our focus will be.
My work involves the world of great white sharks where our goals are varied - from finding a way to extract blood from free swimming sharks to capturing that perfect shot for a multi-million dollar documentary. While our objectives may differ from those of business, the principals for success are exactly the same.

This is a fun presentation with simple yet powerful lessons.