As a true child of the ocean, Richard John Theron’s happiest place is in the middle of the water with no land in sight. The 25-year-old crew member of White Shark Africa recounts how his temporary pit stop in Mossel Bay inevitably extended into a three-year (and counting) labour of love, educating others about his beloved great white sharks and the coastal community he has come to call home.
“I actually ended up falling in love with great whites to the point that my girlfriend comes second and my sharks come first. She knows that very, very well. My happiest days are when I’m out there and I can see a shark. I’ve got a little piece of my heart left to get married, the rest go to these great whites that I work with in Mossel Bay. A day like this where we didn’t see anything, it truly destroys me. I’ll go back home now and be bored out of my skin because I haven’t seen my babies.
“I have a massive phobia of inland. I love the ocean so if I can be in the middle of it without any land around me, that’s where my happiest spot is. I held a travel and expedition post for about 5 years around Africa. As a kid, my folks wanted one direction and I wanted another. So at 17, I dropped out of school to get onto a yacht. I actually passed Mossel Bay with a skipper named Norman, he’s a proper pirate.
“Elton, the skipper of our vessel, was actually the first person I met when I got into the town. From there, I met everyone else and I realised this town wasn’t just a town of separate people. It’s a very tight community, to the point where you can’t even snap your fingers without someone else knowing about it. When I had the opportunity to go out on the White Shark Africa boat, it blew my mind. I was only meant to be here in Mossel Bay on a break for 3 months. I’ve been here now for 3 years.