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Tj Baranek

I was a volunteer under Mike in Gansbaai, and I am proud to say that we became very good friends and stayed well in touch since then. Michael not only made our time with the sharks a great learning experience, he made it fun and memorable. Obviously he can run an organization well, but he is also a very good manager of people, too, and one heck of a photographer. My time spent in Gansbaai was the beginning of two long adventures in South Africa for me, and my time with Mike and his White Shark Trust was what got it off on the right foot. I am very glad I met him, worked with him, and that we still remain very good friends.

What makes Mike such an asset to any company or organization he is involved with is that he’s able to do the right thing even when nobody is watching (I could site several instances I witnessed personally, and am happy to if I’m contacted). Character like that is very rare. He is very proactive when he feels passionate about something, and attacks it with gusto. While in Gansbaai he was always able to tell us what he felt and why (usually pertaining to how sharks were treated and viewed in South Africa), without cramming his opinions down or throats or berating us for not agreeing with them. However, when it came to white sharks, we usually ended up agreeing with him. I do not know any others whose authority on white sharks and their environments I would put above Michael’s, or a nicer person to express his opinions so nicely.

Tj Baranek | NYOB at the US Navy

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