Worldwide Shark Mission – Waking Up In South Africa

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On my first morning at the research house, I awoke to find two springbok outside my bedroom window when I opened the curtains! It was nice being surrounded by both them and the weaver birds. I was feeling a little shy as I left my room and made my way into the kitchen and started making friends with two of the film-making interns. To my surprise one of them was also from New Zealand – what a small world. They had also arrived before our courses officially started, so we joined the group of interns from the previous month and went out for lunch at a grill bar at the Point. We enjoyed our lunch and watched whales surfacing for breath and also seals playing in the waves. Such beautiful nature-watching from the comfort of our seats.

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This world was so different to my experiences at home and made me realise I need to visit the South Island seal colonies one day.

Related Article: A Kiwi on a Worldwide Shark Mission

We explored some of the shops in town and I really enjoyed taking in the different cultures that surrounded me. There were loud motorbikes all around, different fashions and accents. I was in awe when I walked into the Blue Shed cafe – they had all sorts of upcycled furniture and decorations, a variety of different coffee beans you could choose from and very pleasant, welcoming staff. To top it off there were also peacocks and peahens relaxing around the outdoor seating.  It is safe to say this place certainly became a popular go-to whenever I felt like a treat during my internship – they had the most amazing white hot chocolates and cakes and were a bit cheaper than those back home! I had to constantly remind myself to put into perspective the wage of people living and working in South Africa.

Once we were picked up and arrived back at the house, we found three adorable four-week old husky puppies playing around on the deck area and all of us went out to form a circle so they could run around between us (some even fell asleep on laps). One of the field specialists’ friends owned the puppies and was trying to find homes for them so it was really nice having the opportunity to have puppy cuddles. All of the other interns got so excited and it was lovely being around fellow animal-lovers. I was still feeling a little tired that night so after dinner I decided to opt for a night in with a small group rather than venturing off to town.

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“It was really nice having the opportunity to have puppy cuddles”

We ended up watching Lord of the Rings and seeing all of those rolling hills and mountain ranges made me feel right at home. New Zealand was with me no matter how far away I was geographically.

The following day, I explored a few different shops and I was shocked to see the sign outside the mall that read “Enter at your own risk – we do not accept responsibility for theft”. For me, those kind of instructions meant there was some kind of serious danger, something I would never associate with simply looking at a few shops and in broad daylight. Still, I decided to keep my money belt hidden and bag close to my chest.

It rained for a few days as August was approaching an end and my internship start date was getting closer. While I was grateful to have a couple days to relax and get over the jetlag, I kept thinking about how excited I was to soon get out into the field and collect data – getting hands-on experience with the sharks and learning an immense amount while doing so.

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About Author

My name is Jamie and I am a 24 year old who was born and raised in New Zealand. Growing up, I was always running around exploring rockpools and the coastlines when I could. I was lucky enough that my love of the oceans was nurtured through various school camps and field trips exploring the Ohope rockpools and sampled the intertidal zone at Goat Island marine reserve. My love of marine life and desire to learn more led me to study at the University of Auckland where I obtained a Bachelor of Science majoring in biological science and specialising in marine science. Towards the end of my degree, however, I realised that I wanted to gain more knowledge and practical experience with a variety of shark species before heading into post-graduate level study. I had also never ventured out of New Zealand so decided it was time to travel! My love of sharks and drive to help with their conservation has led me to travel while gaining valuable experience through research internships. From South Africa, working with white sharks, sevengills and benthic catsharks to the Bahamas where I’m currently working with lemon sharks, tiger sharks, nurse sharks and reef sharks. I’ve decided to share my travel experiences while following my dream of getting close to and learning about as many shark species as possible all around the world!

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