Etihad flight, somewhere over the Mediterranean Sea. I slept few hours, thanks to the comfort of this business class seat. But now I woke up. Only one hour left before landing in Abu Dhabi: not enough time to watch a movie, so I go for a documentary. Great white shark.. mmm.. it seems interesting.
That’s how I knew about Joel Lambert. Two things got my attention while watching the episode: the pod (a specially designed hemispherical dome) used to get in close contact with big predators and the use of advanced military techniques and strategies to manage situations where the animals at the top of the food chain are involved.
Landing, passport control, baggage claim.. then I enjoy a small breakfast at the arrival lounge, while waiting for my transfer. I turn my MacBook on. I look for some information about Joel Lambert and his TV series. I decided to write him an email, introducing my self and checking his availability for an interview, to be managed via Skype or Phone since I’m based in Dubai.
After few hours I got his reply.. he has a stop over in Dubai very soon! That’s the fate! So we met after few days in one restaurant close by the Dubai International Airport.
Joel Lambert is an exceptionally skilled former U.S. Navy SEAL, star of Discovery Channel’s hit show, Lone Target/Manhunt and Predators Up Close. Joel has also appeared in a number of small and big screen roles such as Hollywood blockbusters American Sniper, where he portrayed a Delta sniper. He constantly seeks out new endeavors to satisfy his curiosity and test the limits of his ability.
Joel, among many other things, became proficient in basic and advanced SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance & Escape) skills, urban evasion, field craft, tracking, counter-tracking, booby traps, and all the rest of the tricks and techniques he now apply during his shows all over the world.
Nico de Corato: In the choppy waters of the South Atlantic just below Cape Town, you had chance to “meet” the great white shark.
Joel Lambert: Correct.. It’s hard to imagine a 2000-pound animal launching itself out of the water while hunting, but the great white shark does just that. This spectacular behavior is called breaching, and great white sharks breach in order to catch fast-moving prey like seals. Swimming fast at the surface, sharks can fly 10 feet into the air. Unfortunately, one can virtually never determine where a White Shark is going to breach before it actually does, making this phenomenon difficult to study or capture on film; breaching is also relatively rare because the shark has to use lots ofenergy to propel itself. But while the team was fixing the pod for use at sea we could witness the most spectacular form of shark hunting on the planet – the breach – when a 2-3 ton great white leaves the water at 40 km/h to take out unsuspecting young seals in False Bay. After that I assessed the impact power of the sharks using an accelerometer, to be sure the pod was safe enough and then we agreed to test it in shark-infested waters.
After a while I was in the pod, a shark came very close and I could hear Gemma [Author entry: Gemma Care is a passionate advocate of shark conservation and protection, assisting Joel during this episode. Ever since her childhood she has been captivated by these creatures, and over the years has developed a particular fascination with great white sharks.] via the communication system asking me with her british accent “Joel.. are you touching the shark?” And I replied “Of course I’m doing that!”.
NdC: The pod has been realized to be used on the ground. Which difficulties did you find to covert it for an in-water use?
JL: Mainly issue was the floatability; an accidental sinking or underwater instability with the pod going upside-down, could mean big risk for the people inside the pod. So we did many tests to ensure the correct position of floating devices in order to have enough stability underwater and while positioning the pod in the water.
Another potential issue was a crack in the plexigas because of the ice and/or shark impact. That’s why we assessed the impact power of the sharks before using it at the sea.
NdC: Lion vs White Shark: which episode did you prefer?
JL: Even though the great white shark is the perfect predator, I feel we are more related to lions. It’s something closer to us.
NdC interrupting Joel: But come on.. you are “a seal” you should be related to sharks.. especially great white ones eat seals..
JL: [Joel starts laughing] Old one mate… but you are right! In remote eastern Zambia, I got up close with an alpha male lion while shielded inside the special pod. During a thrilling night in the pod, lionesses shred the robust bite-force meter, and a big male tries many ways to get in. When a herd of buffalo appears, I could assist the pride’s hunting prowess.
NdC: Let’s talk about safety.. In water or on the ground, people can think you take too much risk sometimes.
JL: That’s a good one.. As former NAVY seal, when planning a mission I try not to leave any safety procedure to the chance. But of course to reach some goals you need to get ready to have a fear reaction that allowed you to perform better. It’s not unsafe; it’s consistent with you I am.
NdC: Do you have any advice for candidate adventurer?
JL: Just step out! Just go for it. Then of course study what to do in situations you may be in. I would learn the things I need to do and then I would definitely listen more experienced people.
We do thank Joel for his time. Hope to join one of his next adventure for a social media close-up.
#KeepCalmAndBlogOn #KeepOnBreaching #TheOnlyEasyDayWasYesterday #NAVYSeals
About Joel (Source: Discovery Channel)
Raised in a small logging town in Washington State, Joel grew up with little direction, but knew what he wanted out of life – something that would challenge him. He recounts a story from when he was 10 years old, about his father’s friend who tried out to be a SEAL, but quit during a training exercise where he had to be revived after he was thrown in the water with hands and feet tied behind his back and tested to survive. As a kid, Joel would swim in the deep end of the pool and think about that story. One day, he decided that trying out to be a SEAL would be the ultimate challenge he had been searching for.
At 22, Joel went to a Navy recruiting office and did nothing but train to ensure he was at top physical condition to be accepted. In 1998, Joel joined the Navy and made it through Basic UnderwaterDemolition/SEAL (BUD/S) – the brutal selection course for the SEAL Teams – where he proudly served during his 10 year stint with the military. He was deployed on numerous combat missions to locations including Afghanistan and Kosovo.
Joel operated within SEAL Teams 2 and 4 for eight years. During that time, he planned and participated in over 20 combat missions, headed the mission critical ordnance department containing all weaponry and optics for 16 SEAL operators, and even trained SEAL operators and foreign special operations personnel from Singapore, Thailand, Greece, Egypt, Germany, Netherlands and Estonia.
After his last tour in Afghanistan, he spent two years as a BUD/S instructor – the screening and selection program for the Navy SEALs. He took on this new role with the understanding that helping to create the next generation of Frogmen is as important as serving in combat. During his time as an instructor, Joe learned the designation “Master Training Specialist” in recognition of superior training and briefing skills and was consistently in the top 10 percent of instructor staff.