We had the good fortune of connecting with Lalo Saidy and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lalo, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
As a kid, I dreamed of seeing a Great White with my own eyes and promised myself that one day I would. Little did I know that promise would become a reality and better yet actually become my profession and lead to the start of my own company. Today, I consider myself very fortunate, after 17 years in the industry as an underwater videographer/photographer, white shark guide and dive instructor, to be in a role that allows for that passion, experience and knowledge to be shared on a daily basis with people from all around the world . In return, I wanted to create a company/ brand that embraced all the shark lovers out there and made them feel included and provide an opportunity for them to contribute to shark and marine conservation projects as well as trying to help Marine Biologists focused on shark research get the tags and equipment they need to continue their work . This is done by giving a percentage of the booking or clothing sales fees to the non profit organizations that I support and work closely with. I also felt that the only honest way to do this was to help support non profits that would have the greatest impact on the next generation and future marine biologists. It is a huge honor to serve as an ambassador for and be associated with companies such as Sharks4kids and Shore Buddies, that focus on issues such as shark education and ocean pollution. It has been an even bigger honor to have been named a Global Ocean Ambassador for Aqualung. And my end goal by creating a company like This Is My Shark Life was not only a clothing brand that helps support these non profits in terms of education , but also as a booking agency that helps clients book that trip of a lifetime with not only the right company but with one that is passionate about what they do , that will provide the most educational experience with standards , honesty and that most importantly manages their environmental footprint and are passionate about ocean conservation and eco tourism. We need to turn things around in terms of redefining a passion for the ocean and the protection of marine wildlife. This involves dispelling the idea of rogue killer sharks and educating about the realities of shark nets and the shark finning industry. And one of the best ways to do so is to experience a shark encounter for yourself so that you can help get rid of the negative stigma revolving around sharks by sharing your positive stories and experience with others.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
In regards to how I got to where I am today- luck really and having been in the right place at the right time. What I thought would be a one day encounter with my favorite shark became my dream career. I went to South Africa as a client to do my top bucket list item. I hired my old boss to film my day trip and while talking to him on the boat I found out he was about to start an underwater video academy. I quickly signed up for 2 months, which turned into 2 years before I was asked to start a video company for one of the shark diving operators in Gansbaai. Along the way I was fortunate enough to learn more from shark biologists and my childhood idol, Andre Hartman and also became the White Shark guide on the trips. And now 17 years later , I am fortunate to have worked in South Africa and Guadalupe helping educate and change people’s perceptions of these amazing sharks. I am always excited to work with film crews from around the world and help them get the shots they need for the episode. Along the way I have been able to work with some amazing people , my favorites being – working with Steve Irwin and shooting for Animal planet, filming the opening episode of shark week for Discovery Channel with Mike Rowe for Dirty Jobs- Jobs That Bite, as well as a couple of shoots for National Geographic. Normally I am behind the camera, but I am also proud of being part of an educational documentary we just did with PBS- Great White Shark: New Perspectives On An Ancient Predator. I am also very honored to represent Aqualung as a Global Ocean Ambassador . Jacques Cousteau played a big role in terms of my passion for the ocean with his documentaries and it has been a huge honor to have been chosen as one of the few to represent his legacy and continue his ocean storytelling as one of the company ambassadors. In terms of my brand/company ,This Is My Shark Life – it isn’t just about me, the name applies to every client out there who loves sharks and wants to dive with them. Most importantly, it is also about booking that experience with companies that are honest, eco- friendly, and contribute to conservation and education about the ocean environment we are fortunate to work in to add extra value to that bucket list trip. I, myself was a client once, looking to experience my top bucket list , so I run my company and position based on how I would want to be treated as a client booking and living my dream trip.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would recommend escaping to the open ocean and an experience only a handful of others had shared. The Guadalupe Island trip of course. A 5 day trip to the island of the white shark. A volcanic island with 100 foot visibility . The most fun and interesting part- cage diving with white sharks. 3 meals a day prepared by our chef and washed down with beer or wine in the evening while you learn more about the White Shark from the marine biologist or shark week star we have on board. If we didn’t do the trip I would still recommend a trip to the ocean and sharks so we would be snorkeling with the leopard sharks in La Jolla . If they weren’t a big ocean person, then I would recommend one of the many amazing hiking trails around the San Diego area. An escape into nature is always a healthy option.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to give a Shoutout to Horizon Charters- America’s Shark Boat for letting me join the team as their white shark guide and dive instructor 6 seasons ago. Not only are they the longest running operation to Guadalupe Island but they are also one of the most passionate about sharks and focus on smaller groups, education and ecotourism . It is nice to know that you work for a company that not only focuses on diver/client safety but also respects shark conservation as a core value. This is done thru educational shark tours by working with California State University – Long Beach Shark Lab and a marine biologist on every trip as well as hosting Shark Week scientists to educate and interact with some of their biggest fans. Along with our clients- shark safety is also a top priority and we do our part with our rounded cages, following shark diving guidelines and proper bait handling techniques .
Linkedin: Lalo Saidy
Facebook: This Is My Shark Life
Youtube: This Is My Shark Life
Other: Trip Advisor- This Is My Shark Life