Hails from: Durban, South Africa
Currently lives in: South coast of KwaZulu Natal in South Africa
Favorite Place: In the ocean – either riding waves or under the sea diving.
Favorite Things to Do: Spending time outdoors whether it’s riding my horse, surfing, or diving with sharks; also love sharing these experiences with my husband Russel.
Favorite Shark: Tie between tigers and whale sharks
What shark are you most like and why?
Definitely most like a tiger shark: big, slow-moving, eat junk food, super-chilled until you get between me and my favourite meal (with tigers it’s turtle and me its pizza).
How did sharks draw you into their watery world?
After growing up spending a disproportionate amount of time worrying about seeing a shark whilst out surfing; I came face to face with a large tiger shark on one of my first dives. I love all animals but had never experienced a feeling like that before. It was overwhelming and humbling; I felt complete adoration, respect and love for this huge animal. Instead of being a terrifying encounter it was life-changing in the best way imaginable and now I spend most of my time trying to find sharks to dive with, introducing other ocean-user groups to sharks and of course joining other Shark Angels in the fight for their survival.
As a competitive provincial bodyboarder, duty lifeguard and surfer, Olivia “OJ” Symcox initially grew up fearing sharks. Everything changed on one of her first ever scuba dives, when a large tiger shark swam up to her and it was love at first sight. She now spends as much time under water as she does riding waves and is dedicated to changing surfers and general beachgoer’s perceptions of these majestic creatures. Through her well established media contacts, daily radio surf reports, and weekly newspaper columns, Olivia is committed to educating the public about sharks and the issues facing our oceans. She also uses her own PR consultancy business and sporting profile, to assist and promote responsible shark reporting in the media. From her custom BuiltbyWildman “Sharks Eat Fish” surfboard which sparks conversation in the water, to her PR work around sharks and conservation, OJ is a Shark Angel dedicated to making a difference and dispelling the irrational shark fears of those who enter the water.
Telephone: +1 917 546 6618
315 East 91st Street
New York, NY 10128
501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization