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Volunteering in South Africa – The Great White Shark

Hopeful to escape the winter in the Northern Hemisphere and wishful for an adventure, I applied for an opportunity to volunteer in South Africa at the Great White Conservation project. I landed in sunny and warm Cape Town and was taken the next morning to a little town about a 3 hour drive away named Gansbaai, which is known as the Great White Shark capital of the world. It has organizations like National Geographic visiting its famous Shark Alley during the winter months to film sharks breaching the water to capture seals in their strong jaws, lined with rows of jagged teeth.

During the summer months, however, the waters are a little calmer and we spent our time near the shallows, where sharks quietly hung out. This is where the sharks can be seen not as monsters, but as gentle and majestic creatures. Using chum and a decoy in the shape of a seal, the crew lured sharks to the boat as people donned wet suits and goggles and climbed into a large diving cage that had been lowered into the water.

From sea level as well as below the water, we got a closer look at the curious sharks that swam nearly up to the cage and it was such a thrilling experience. Besides working on the boat with tourists and the crew, I also met some incredible people that came from all walks of life and each had amazing stories to tell. I had such an amazing time during my project and cannot wait for the opportunity to return.