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Kimberley Goes South-Africa: Looking Back!

Early morning rise…

When I signed up for the internship of 3 months I was really looking forward to it, but I also wondered if it was not too much and whether it would not be ‘boring’ to do the same thing every day. .. After 3 months I can say: No, it will not be boring! If you really have a passion for sharks, this  work is never boring, the crew and the other volunteers are great, the visiting clients are different every day – so you hear a lot of stories from all over the world, besides going on the boat you do lots of other activities and … you get to see the sharks of course!

Every shark is different
The sharks each have a unique character just like we have. It is incredibly beautiful to see different sharks from small to large, from very calm to very inquisitive. You also sometimes see ‘feeding frenzies’ with copper sharks, sea lions come to say hello and you occasionally see smooth stingray of 2 meters swim across the bait!

Real shark conservation or not?
If I look at whether I have contributed to the protection of sharks, I can say yes and no, because I have not done any ‘real’ protection. Currently, copper sharks are being fished for their fins and meat. This is just legal because it is not a protected species. The biologists at Gansbaai do their best to change that, but it is difficult. Personally, I can not do much about it. On the other hand, education is one of the most important factors in protecting the sharks. The more people know about these sharks, the better they can understand and accept the sharks. And education tops the list of all the things that we have done here. Every day, we could teach dozens of people about conservation and protection of the sharks, about shark behaviour and the status of sharks. 

Meeting kids…

The Ocean Days
During the ’21 Ocean days’, from September 1 to September 21, we gave many presentations about sharks, the ocean and the plastic problem. I am proud that I have been able to help and have been able to teach kids about the ocean and its inhabitants and problems.

Is it worth going?
This program is really worth the effort. Yes, you get up early every day (5 AM!) and sometimes days are long, but really every minute you are here is great. The people you work with are one big family – and you are part of it,  literally from arrival until the day you leave, it feels like home. Sometimes it is a ‘no sea day’, which means that the weather is too bad or that the waves are too high. On these days you do other activities such as horseback riding on the beach, walk the dogs from the rescue center, visit Cape Aguhlas, Hermanus, Betty’s Bay and sometimes Mosselbay, there is a recycling swop shop where you can work…

So there is always something to do. I definitely recommend this to everyone!

Not too short
As a general recommendation,  I advise people to stay at least 3 weeks. The website states that they recommend staying for at least 2 weeks, but from my own experience I recommend 3 weeks. Sometimes the white sharks will keep their distance, or stay away. To have the best chance of seeing the sharks at least a few times, it is better to stay for 3 weeks.

Giving presentations!

A highlight
Something else, that was really cool: the last week we had a so-called streak! We saw at least one great white shark every day  – and the coolest thing is that the sharks were mega! The biggest shark I saw was five meters!  And another company claims to have even seen a 6 meter shark, which I have unfortunately not seen. But suddenly there were about 8 different white sharks in the bay. So you see again that these sharks do what they want. They come and they go.

So do YOU love sharks and being active. Just go. Everyone is welcome, and like me, this will soon feel like ‘being home!’

 

Kimberley stayed with White Shark Project in Kleinbaai. More info about volunteering:

https://www.whitesharkprojects.co.za/projects/volunteer-project/

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