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A conversation with Emma Casagrande - Mom and Shark Diver

Rachel O'Reilly

By Courtney Ward

I’m fascinated by women who have really cool jobs and are Moms too. Being a working Mother myself, I know the juggle is real. Today we are featuring an interview with my friend, Emma Casagrande; wife, mother, shark conservationist and world traveler. Let’s dive right in!

When we met several years ago on a whale shark diving trip in Mexico, you were hesitant to even get in the water. Now you frequently dive and photograph sharks with your husband for work! What changed?

That time 9 years ago when I met you in Holbox Island, Mexico was my very first time diving with such a big shark, a whale shark, and it truly was an incredible experience and feeling. I had been diving with reef sharks before but I had very little experience diving with sharks at that time.

Entering that big open water outside of Mexico with very little knowledge about these animals definitely made my heart rate go up, but it was also a mixed feeling of being super excited at the same time. I was able to get up close to one of  the sharks and seeing them underwater in that big open ocean made me fall in love with them.

After that experience, whale sharks are still one of my favorite sharks. They are the biggest shark in size but maybe the nicest shark in mind. They only eat plankton and small fish.They are safe to be around and a good shark to get to know and hang out with.

Your husband is an Emmy award winning cinematographer for National Geographic and Discovery Channel’s Shark Week and sometimes you get in the water and assist him too. How has becoming a Mother changed your perspective on the presumed dangers of that line of work?

Yes, my husband Andy Casagrande films sharks and other predators for a living. I'm originally from Sweden and 10 years ago I was traveling in Africa and very randomly I met Andy in the middle of the Serengeti where he was filming the lions for National Geographic during the whole summer.

We both fell for each other immediately and that’s where our journey started.

I ended up coming along on many shoots and learned on location.

Having 2 small children 1.5 and 3.5 years old, Nova Fina and Ace has definitely changed our life in every way. All to even more exciting of course!

Safety wise I think that each and everyone one of us have a different perception about what safety is, and it all depends on what you are use to doing and what your profession is. Statistically, driving in the car has a higher risks of accident than diving with sharks. But I definitely have higher awareness of danger now and embrace safety in every way possible!

How have you managed to continue doing what you love while raising two adorable toddlers?

Doing what we are doing with kids definitely needs more planning. We have brought my very kind Mom along to the locations for help, so we have been able to dive during day and be with kids/family in the evenings. My mom still lives in Sweden so we have been needing to plan more for sure.

Speaking of Sweden, you were born and raised there. Is the Swedish style of parenting different than the American? If so, what tips can you share with us?

I think Swedish and American parenting is similar in many ways. It's hard for me to know if differences are culture or personality. There’s a billion ways of doing something right. Even within the same country, there’s different beliefs on what’s right and what’s best. This is great because you can always find one study that supports your beliefs! Kids communicate with their parents the best, so listen to your child, go with your gut and do everything with love.

What’s scarier...the first time in the water with tiger sharks or your first night home with your baby?

(Laughs…) I don't know! It depends on if you are scared of sharks or not?

But going home with your newborn definitely tops every piece of emotion out there in every way!

Nothing can beat that!

How can we get involved and help you save the sharks?

Any last words you want to share?

Love your little ones more than life and the rest will be just fine. Each and every one of them are born as perfect as they can be! And don't forget to love yourself equally as much! See the beauty in imperfection and see the world with love! Love sharks and have a happy, amazing 2017!

Thank you so much Emma, it was a thrill to speak with you. Click here for more information about shark angels.

If you are a Mom who also has an exciting career, tell us about it in the comments section below.