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GAP YEAR | VOLUNTEER ABROAD | WORK EXPERIENCE OVERSEAS

 

Volunteers' Stories

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STEPHANIE EDWARDS
British

White Shark Project in Gansbaai, South Africa
         

I'm having an awesome time in South Africa!!!! I settled in very quickly at the lodge, (which is beautiful and huuuuge!) and started work on the boat the day after I arrived.

The area is stunning, right on the sea, lovely views of the ocean from the top windows of the lodge. Everyone is really friendly, especially the skippers Gerald and Grant, and the hostess Elizma, and they have really made me feel at home. Well the first day was fantastic (apart from feeling a little sea sick!). On that first day I just watched what the crew did and tried to take as much in as possible.

I also got to go in the cage, which was incredible; the best thing I've ever done in my life!!! The sharks are so beautiful, and even more impressive from under water. We also saw a southern right whale breach right near to our boat as we were on our way back to shore. It was absolutely stunning; I thought I was going to cry!

Most days I get up at around 5.45am and launch is usually at 8.30am. We go out to sea and I help out with getting the clients in/out of their wetsuits and generally help out on the boat (with the anchor, cage, cleaning etc). We are usually back on shore by around 12/1pm but the day can go on longer if it take a while to get sharks. But the chum usually works very well and we get a shark within 1/2 hour of getting to our spot.

At the end of the day I help clean the boat with a lovely guy named Mandla, who has taught me a lot. It's very rewarding when the clients really enjoy the sharks and the weather is good. Some days can be quite hard when we have to battle with the rain, wind and poor water visibility (and people getting very sea sick!). Luckily that doesn't happen too often though, the weather is usually fantastic!

I love being out at sea (now that I have my sea legs!) and everyday is so exciting, especially when we get really interesting sharks. I also help out with taking data, eg. noting down each shark, what time it's seen, distinguishing marks, tags, size, sex etc, which is really interesting.

The amount I have learnt since I got here is unbelievable! Not only more about the sharks, but also about working out at sea, which I knew nothing about 2 weeks ago!

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stephanie
Stephanie on the Boat

stephanie
Stephanie and Mandla cleaning

stephanie
Thank you from Stephanie