Sharks play an essential rol in the health of our oceans

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Kimberley goes SA: sharks, sharks and… many plastic straws!

My first white shark from the cage!

What a great way to start the week!!! After the big beach-cleanup in Hermanus we did a ‘volunteer only trip’. This means that only volunteers are on the boat and no customers. I have also been in the cage !!! Soon there was a big female of 4 meters, that swimming round and round to the boat and tried to get the bait. I have seen a big shark before but from the cage it is so different from the boat. If you are literally a meter away to the shark at the same water depth, it is so magical. One time when she passed, she looked straight at me for several seconds!

A great white shark, breaching

Tuesday, September 11, we went back to the crèche and we played games with the children and made coloring pages. We also went out with the boat again and we saw a copper shark and a large stingray. Alas, we did not see a white shark.

The next days were No Sea Days, unfortunately. But we have spent our days well with presentations,one of those about ‘upcycling: this is different from recycling, because when recycling you deliver recyclable bottles to be melted again and then make bottles again. When you are up-cycling, you make plastic goods yourself. On the picture you see me busy making a kind of curtain from plastic caps, rope, beads and cut shapes from plastic bottles. No piece of plastic is thrown away because you can make something with every piece. Furthermore, we went to a presentation that was given at a school in Gansbaai. It was wonderful to see the children respond actively on the questions they were asked and they asked a lot of themselves- they were really interested!

Plastic,plastic, plastic….

We gave presentations about plastic straws, because we find an incredible number of them on the beach and in the water … It is possible that these straws get stuck in the nose of for example a sea turtle, causing serious breathing difficulties. Local businesses often give out the straws away for free while we do not need a straw to drink our drink. These straws can then blow away or end up in rivers that flow into the sea.

 

Friday, September 14, it was still a no sea day. In the morning we went to the nursery, these children were very talkative! I have had great conversations with them in Afrikaans. The children told us about the sharks and could count and mention the colors. In the afternoon we went to Cape Agulhas. This is South Africa’s southernmost point.

A magnificent copper shark!

Just like last time we went looking for sting rays but unfortunately they were not there again, because of ships that were dredging.
That Saturday we FINALLY went back to the sea and saw a beautiful copper shark passing by twice, and in the last 15 minutes a large big great white female came along! She was 4 meters long and stayed for 15 minutes, but unfortunately we had to head back to port because of the next trip. In the afternoon we held a big city cleanup organized by the Gansbaai Tourism Center. Eeach participating pair received special trash bags and a list to check all the trash found. I do not know how much we have found, but we have found 400 cigarette butts. Good second were the plastic caps of which we had about 250 and then the plastic straws of about 180. Really shocking!

On Sunday, September 16, we went back to the sea and we had a copper shark that only kept swimming around for an hour. Because there were no white sharks, our clients went into the water with the copper shark (see photo). 

In my second ‘blog week’ it was the last week of the 21 Ocean Days – and the weather was bad al week. This week we visited and walked the dogs again at B.A.R.C., attended presentations about the anatomy of the shark, saw children with learning problems, and cheered during the race of a fellow volunteer.
 
Every year a race is held and you can take compete.. This volunteer has been here every year for eight years, and then joins the race. He ran no less than 28 kilometers !!! Super achievement, and he also came in first. Together with another volunteer I helped distribute water to the runners, enjoying the with a beautiful view (see photo)!
 
The children with learning difficulties were great! They are incredibly sweet and really want to communicate with you, but they are not very good it. But all kids have great characters! One child only wanted to hug you, the other asked a lot of questions and another child was very quiet. It is wonderful to work with these children, to show them different pictures of sharks and to tell nice facts about sharks.

In short, these were two exciting and varied weeks!

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