Photos by Justin Turkowski
In 2013, Kimi Werner was on a shark research expedition in the middle of the ocean, but the group hadn’t spotted a single shark all day. As the day drew to a close, Kimi jumped in the water to go for a swim. Seconds later, she felt her dive partner grabbing her shoulder. She knew exactly what was behind her.
“I saw the head of the biggest great white shark I’ve ever seen about three feet away,” she says. Unprotected by a dive cage, Kimi knew she had two choices. She could try and out-swim the great white shark, kicking and screaming like in a Hollywood movie, or do the opposite and swim towards the shark. “So that’s what I did.”
As a professional freediver and spearfisherwoman, Kimi understands the importance of body language to marine animals. “As soon as she swam towards me, I knew I had to swim right back down towards her. It felt like a rhythm, like a dance.” By swimming towards the shark, Kimi communicated that she was a predator and therefore not on the menu today.