Volunteer in South Africa
My name is Joe Long and this is my third time volunteering for White Shark Projects. I had to wait a couple of years to come back again due to the Covid Pandemic. I was overjoyed to be reunited with some familiar faces, as well as some new ones. Gansbaai is in the Western Cape of South Africa around 2hrs from Cape Town. South Africa is such a beautiful place it is no wonder people return again and again to this number one holiday destination.
The volunteer house over looks the harbor and has breath taking views of the ocean. It really is a wonderful living space with everything you could wish for. It includes a spacious kitchen and living area with a large patio area for barbecues. There is a smart TV with Netflix and even a backup battery for Wi-Fi during loadshedding. The rooms are comfortable boasting four showers and four toilets. There is plenty of space to take nine volunteers at any time and it has a home from home feel that cannot be explained.
Shark Cage Diving
Getting up early in the morning to get the boat ready is great fun and of course diving with various species of sharks is a honor. I have been trained in all areas of boat duties. Working closely with the crew who have over ten decades of experience between them is a honor. The whole team are patient and kind and they are a pleasure to be around. I truly love to come out to help this wonderful organization.
Recycle Swop Shop
The Recycle Swop Shop is one of White Shark Projects vital community based programs’. It is lovely being surrounded by the beautiful township children and to be part of this great initiative. This project supports hundreds of children and their parents each year in Gansbaai. The children que up every Tuesday at 2pm after school with their recyclable materials. Our crew weighs the items and exchanges them for points. The children can then go inside the shop and use these points to buy essential items such as books, toiletries and toys. This project stops hundreds of thousands of plastic waste and pollution from blowing into the ocean each year. The children learn about recycling and what they can do to be rewarded for their hard work.
I am a big animal lover so visiting Birkenhead Animal Rescue Centre to walk the dogs and cats is a privilege. Knowing these animals are safe and having the chance to make their lives better is a blessing.
When we are not on the boat we get to take part in catch and release tagging surveys. The shark species include the puff adder shy shark, pyjama shark and leopard cat shark to name a few. The marine biologist Mary takes us snorkeling in Dekelders where we catch, tag and release. This is equally important for shark conservation as it assists with gathering data on population sizes, migratory patterns, survivorship and growth rates. This data provides an overview of the species found in this area of South Africa and is fed into a national data-base where all scientists can collaborate.
We target different areas each week collecting thousands of plastic items that are washed back onto our beautiful beaches daily. Sometimes it is hard to look at but seeing the difference that can be made really makes us motivated to do more. Furthermore we have found some strange items in the past from front doors to flip flops but the team always makes a plan to get it out of the ocean and off the beaches.
Friends For Life
One of the great things about volunteering is all the things you get to see and do on no sea days. I have been to some amazing places with them over the years and had some incredible experience’s. I have meet some awesome people here with some becoming friends for life. This has changed my life completely each time meeting new and exciting people. I wish I could volunteer for them all the time. You really do feel like you are making a difference. I cant wait to come back in October 2023.
See you all soon Shark Team!