General Manager and Skipper Hennie Otto regards his vast responsibilities as captain of the crew as "a full-time paid holiday and a way of life" rather than a job. A versatile all-rounder who also boasts in-depth knowledge of seabirds (both vagrants and residents) and a fundi with cameras, Hennie is the guy to help you set your camera for those once in a lifetime shots. "It is extremely rewarding and an immense privilege to work close to nature every day amongst the creatures that you love. Every day is different and a new adventure - you never know what to expect."
In September 2008 he traded his commercial involvement in Gansbaai's prolific sea life for the conservation and protection thereof as skipper for Marine Dynamics. "Instead of killing our marine species for the industrial market, I now earn my living by protecting and conserving the ocean's wildlife - and that is an honour and a privilege!" A naturalist who studied Zoology and Geography, Hennie has always had a keen interest in animals and their interaction and behaviour in different geographical and environmental habitats. He also gained valuable experience as research coordinator for Irvin & Johnson's abalone culture facility at Danger Point and was subsequently introduced to the field of parasitology.
He has attended many International Marine Science and Parasitology Symposia over the years and presented at Texas A&M University as part of a marine development, aquarium and educational programme. Hennie is still actively involved in various research studies and projects in conjunction with the universities of Limpopo and the North (Potchefstroom). These studies entail the prevalence of parasites on the ocean's top-predators and fish species, as well as the bio-accumulation of toxic substances in the ocean's food chain.
Hennie's love and respect for the sea is reflected in his crew - they work together as a close-knit team and the crew respects the way he leads by example and involves all the team members in decision-making processes. "Everybody must feel comfortable with a decision. I cannot, for example, decide to drop anchor at a specific location without consulting with my team members. Each decision is a joint effort and everyone must be happy with it and feel worthy and respected."