My previous experience here as a volunteer prepared me well for this challenge
Three weeks into internship I was given a great opportunity to become a member of the Marine Dynamics crew and start guiding shark cage diving trips. As terrifying as it was for me, I was incredibly happy to have this new experience in my life. This time being my third time in Gansbaai it wasn’t too difficult to get more familiar with the area and the animals around it.
Before I could do it on my own I spent about two weeks in training with other marine biologists working for the company, learning the procedures and different ways of running the trips. Here we got to grips with what to expect on the water, as well as to prepare for the unexpected! While some trips can be similar it was very important for me to try and find my own voice and the way I wanted to introduce the area and the animals that reside here to the people on-board, so that each trip was special for the clients joining us. Apart from constantly being at sea and seeing the animals that you love every day, the most fun and rewarding part of the job is to help people discover beautiful wildlife and importance of it.
The illusive Great White!
Even though I still haven’t had the opportunity to guide a trip with Great White sharks around, Bronze Whalers or as we call them Bronzies have been absolutely incredible around the boat, coming up really close to the cage in large numbers and allowing our divers to appreciate their grace and agility. After spending over a month assisting with guiding on a shark cage diving boat, I still find that each trip can be unique in its own way, and as we tell our guests this is the wild ocean and you never know what you going to see: whether it’s a small pod of Humpback dolphins passing by just 40 meters away, a Giant petrel soaring above us, or an unexpected Seven-gill cowshark coming up to the cage, and checking our divers out, we just never know what we are going to experience.
Being a guiding biologist has taught me one really important thing that if you love what you do and passionate about it, people do tune into your enthusiasm making the trips so much fun and interesting.