Chantelle ‘Chilli’ Derez
Deckhand, Quarter master
Hails from: Outback Australia
What/who inspires you as an activist?
I admire and have huge respect for Rodney Fox who was bitten by a Great White Shark while spear fishing. Instead of having hatred he decided to find out more about these magnificent creatures. Incredibly he was the first person to start Great White Shark tourism to show these misunderstood animals in a positive light.
Favorite Shark(s) and why?
Great White Sharks and Hammerheads, mostly because a lot of people hate them just because they don’t understand them. I’m in awe and feel privileged every time I get a chance to see them.
If you could tell people one thing about about sharks and/or the oceans, what would it be?
There is a great magical world under the sea that many people do not get to ever see, open the door and go have a look for yourself before it is too late.
Why are you on this campaign? What do you want to achieve?
Talking to schools has been a great way of educating the future generations about why they should value the ocean and its inhabitants. It's great to see kids smiling and asking questions about animals they normally fear. The highlight has been when the kids have asked when we are coming back as they want to learn more!
Tell us something surprising
I'm currently writing a book about backpacking through Africa. All the things trip advisors say not to do, I did plus more. The proceeds from the book will be given to charity for conservation.
Growing up I always knew I wanted to work with animals and have always been insanely curious about their behaviour. At University I gained a Bachelor Degree in Wildlife Research and Honours in Reptile Behaviour. I spent many years working with rare animals in the wild and also in breeding programs. I'm fascinated about creatures that people fear and don't understand. For many years I avoided water and decided to do a SCUBA course. After that I became a Divemaster and spent 2 years diving on the Great Barrier Reef. Great White Sharks have always held a fascination in my mind but while diving on the GBR I had a baby Hammerhead shark swim around me and it was instant awe. I have spent time in South Australia and South Africa working on Great White Shark diving boats educating many people who are wary of these creatures.