DEADLY 60: Steve Backshall will be in Gladstone on January 8.
DEADLY 60: Steve Backshall will be in Gladstone on January 8. Contributed

Fearless Deadly 60 star is wary of only one animal

DEADLY 60 star Steve Backshall said walking the streets of London at night is probably more dangerous than swimming with a Great White Shark.

"Apart from anything else sharks tend to be fairly predictable," he said.

"What that experience showed me, in the right conditions, in crystal clear waters, where sharks can see you and they know what you are and you're not their intended prey if you move calmly in a cool fashion underwater then honestly I feel more safe diving with Great Whites than anything else.

"Although I'd been diving with sharks for over 20 years before I attempted that for the first time.

"I didn't just drop myself in next to a Great White one day."

Mr Backshall admitted a lot of large mammals aren't as predictable.

"Being underwater with a big seal or a hippo in a worst case scenario is quite frightening," he said.

"Hippo's are by far the most frightening animal to be close to.

"The big males can weigh three tonnes, they're fast, territorial and tend to be grumpy, irritable and aggressive.

"They're the one animal that really live up to their reputation."

He maintains the old cliche is true, that animals can sense your fear.

"When you're working with animals, it's really important not to be frightened," Mr Backshall said.

"It's even more true with wild animals, they sense things from your body language, if you're frightened or intimidated you're far more likely to have a negative encounter.

"For me, it's all about being calm, being confident and getting as much experience as you can possibly get.

If you can do all those things, then most wild animals will do anything to avoid a negative encounter with you."

Mr Backshall was inspired by his father who "was massively into animals and the outdoors."

"He showed me the way," he said.

"I studied biology, but got into animals and television in 1998 when I made a programme myself and sold it to National Geographic.

"They made me their 'Adventurer in Residence', which is probably the world's coolest job title."

"Since then he has gone on to host several television shows featuring wild animals and adventures exploring remote and dangerous parts of the world.

He admits it's not the big, scary animals that worry him most.

"It's always the little bugs, beasties and bacteria that get you," Mr Backshall said.

"I get sick every year with something unpleasant, malaria is something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

"But in terms of danger to us as human beings it's the invertebrates, like mosquitoes, which might kill as many as 2.5 million people around the world each year.

"There's no comparison with sharks that might kill 10 people each year."

Steve Backshall will be appearing in The Deadly 60 Down Under at to the Gladstone Entertainment Convention Centre on January 8.