Linda Ferwerda is the founder and editor of the online magazine DuikeninBeeld who has an endless passion for diving and writing. We asked her several questions about her involvement with the Save Our Sharks project and Dutch Caribbean Shark Week.
For starters, tell us about yourself
I am the founder of DuikeninBeeld, a Dutch online platform for divers, made by divers. The platform brings you news, stories, photography, and videos about everything associated with diving and the underwater world. It is fair to say that diving is my passion. It is a passion that myself, and all other contributors to DuikeninBeeld, are very excited to transfer to other divers, but also to the non-diving community. Sharks and rays are incredibly associated with my diving experience. These animals are so fascinating and form an essential part of the marine ecosystems!
How are you involved with the Dutch Caribbean Shark Week?
My involvement with the project entails that DuikeninBeeld does not only support the initiative of Shark Week, but all the work of Save Our Sharks throughout the rest of the year. We are also involved with an event called counting pike in the lake of Vinkeveen. I get that pike are not sharks, but they are the largest predatory fish in freshwater and with this event, we get to reach out to the freshwater divers in the Netherlands.
Why did you get involved with the Shark Week here in the Netherlands?
I believe it is important that people, and not only divers, in a country like the Netherlands realize that sharks are not bloodthirsty monsters. Instead, they fulfill an important role in the oceans. It still surprises me that the first thing people mention about sharks is the movie Jaws. Unfortunately, many years after the movie, that is still the image that stuck with people. I would love to take all those people with me and show them how beautiful these animals really are. With DuikeninBeeld, we can bring the animals to those people’s homes.
What is your most memorable moment with a shark or ray?
That is a very tough question with many possible answers! The time I saw manta rays leaving a cleaning station and pass by only millimeters above my head… Or seeing breaching white sharks in South Africa, with immense power, that was really breathtaking… Or a dive in the middle of the ocean South from Cape Point (South Africa) amongst a pack of blue sharks… wow! Or the sevengill sharks with those prehistoric eyes in the kelp forests of False Bay?
No, my best memory is a hilarious meeting with a shark long ago on a reef in the area of Safaga in Egypt. It was a quiet dive, and together with my dive buddy I looked around the corner of a reef as we see a shark shooting off. That is odd, my expectations of a shark were completely different! Two seconds later we see a group of around ten divers swimming a bit slower (of course they couldn’t keep up with the shark!), trying to chase the shark. A very strange sight and I actually felt sorry for the shark…
What shark or ray species is at the top of your bucket-list right now?
So many! They are such an amazing group of animals with many similarities among species, but also many differences.