PETALING JAYA, August 2 — Illusionist and best-selling author Andrew Mayne will be putting his wits to the test for his latest and deadliest trick yet — coming face-to-face with a dozen great white sharks.
Mayne who has loved sharks and magic since he was a kid, teamed up with Discovery Channel for this year’s 31st installment of the famed Shark Week, in his new show, Andrew Mayne: Ghost Diver, where the master magician will attempt to camouflage himself in Australia’s shark-infested waters.
In an email interview, Mayne revealed that although the idea seemed “crazy” at first, he has always dreamed of coming up with a way to combine both sharks and magic into one of his tricks.
“The idea of trying to use magic to fool a shark seemed crazy at first (and still does), but it became a goal.
“I’ve always wanted to find a way to combine the science behind the two in an interesting way,” said Mayne.
Mayne made his name by stupefying viewers with his magical illusions like making ghosts appear on iPhone’s and shrinking himself to be only one-foot tall, besides writing over 45 fiction and magic books such as Illusiontech and The Naturalist.
This trick, however, is unlike any other he’s done before, because he would be around a wild and unpredictable animal like the great white shark.
To help, Mayne sought the expertise of marine ecologist, Dr Neil Hammeschlag and underwater cameraman, Andy Casagrande to gear up for his dangerous scheme.
“I had to learn how to use a rebreather — a device that allows you to dive very quietly and for longer.
“I also learnt a lot about sharks and how to swim next to very big sharks, staying away from their pointy teeth!”
Apart from all the training, Mayne also worked together with scientists and technicians to figure out the right approach to try and camouflage himself from the shark — which led to the creation of his shark suit.
“The whole process took about four months to complete the suit, I had a list of ideas and met with the experts to test them all out.
“The suit went through several evolutions and trials before its final form.”
Once the suit was ready, all that was left was to execute the trick, as Mayne said that his experience being up close and personal with a great white was more insightful that he expected.
“The moment I got in, I saw a great white 10 feet away from me. He stared at me with a ‘sharky’ grin because I was in his territory.
“He was curious, but he wasn’t there to eat me, he was just wondering what I was doing in his space, it was incredible.”
Andrew Mayne: Ghost Diver airs on Discovery Channel (Ch 551) on August 3 at 9pm.