Extreme Humans

Mike Rutzen – The Shark Whisperer

Last Updated on September 3, 2020 by Darshan Modi

Mike Rutzen
Mike Rutzen


Mike Rutzen has the ability to understand and communicate with even the most dangerous sharks.


Michael Rutzen was born on the 11th of October 1970 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Early Life

Mike Rutzen has four elder siblings, two brother and two sisters with a 20 year gap between him and his eldest sibling. When he was five years old the family moved to Brits due to Mike’s health and lung problems. Mike’s father was an evangelist for the New Apostolic Church.
After school, Mike joined the Defence Force as a medic. When he turned 20 he visited the coastal town of Gansbaai and fell in love the place. and he decided to move there. Mike was a fisherman in Gansbaai in the Western Cape for many years and in the beginning was afraid of sharks.
Over time as the interest from tourists increased, Mike was forced to work more closely with Sharks and learned to respect and love them. Soon he was free diving with the sharks and after time he began to understand the behaviour of sharks sufficiently to prevent him from being attacked by them.
In 1994 he gave up being a fisherman and became an shark cage dive operator and by 1998 he was free diving with White Sharks, the most dangerous of all sharks.

About Mike Rutzen

Mike Rutzen has not only swum with sharks without a cage, but has actually been able to ride them. Mike believes that Sharks are actually very smart and curious about humans and are not just out to eat us. Mike is a member of the White Shark Cage Diving Foundation and is involved in developing techniques to develop the sport. Mike runs a Shark Diving company and has accompanied many famous people on cage dives, including Prince Harry.
He supports research projects and tagging projects in South Arica that protect marine species and is a member of the Whale Disentanglement Network for the Department of Environmental Affairs in South Africa. He has developed a certified diving course that increases the awareness of the Great White Shark and general Marine Awareness.
Mike Rutzen was one of the people responsible for the development of a Shark friendly barrier to separate humans and sharks without harming either. In 2012 Mike won a Lifetime achievement award at the Tourfilm Festival Prague for his work in extending the boundaries of humans in the worlds oceans.

ALSO READ ABOUT:   Aaron Evans - The Human Spring

Genetic Or Learned

Mike’s ability is learned. By spending more time with Sharks than any other animal he has learned to read and understand their behaviour.

Names Known By

  • Sharkman

Official website

Mike Rutzen Youtube Videos

Featured In

  • Movie – Dark Tide – Warner Brothers -2010
  • TV Series – Sharkmaster for the TV show Stan Lee’s Superhumans

Documentaries Featured In

  • “Beyond fear” -National Geographic – 2005
  • “Sharks man-eaters or misunderstood? – 2006
  • “Sharkman” – Discovery – 2007
  • 60 Minutes with Anderson Cooper – CNN, CBS – 2009
  • The Great White Shark, A Living Legend -BBC Natural World- 2008 – 2009
  • Shark Night (Discovery French TV) – 2010
  • Great White Shark (IMAX 3D) – 2010

Books Featured In

  • Currents of Contrast: Life in Southern Africa’s Two Oceans – Thomas Peschak – 2005
  • Surfing South Africa – Steve Pike (2008)
  • Play, Performance and Identity: How Institution structure lucid space – Matt O,pasta and Drew Chappell – 2015
  • Contesting Environmental Imaginaries – Steven Hartman – 2017
  • The Fear Project – Jaimal Yogis – 2013
  • Play – colleen Corcoran – 2014
  • Shark Attack: Man-eaters and Men – Richard Ellis – 2013