The White Shark Trust Field Research Assistantship is proud to introduce you to our assistants:

Justin HUBBEL (Anaheim, California, USA), Anna BATTESE (St-Fadden, Australia), Adam PHILLIPS (Redditch, United Kingdom) and Brandon MITCHELL (Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA).

Our friend Chris MILNES (Grantham, Lincolnshire, England), one of our old assistants from 2003 and 2004, has also come back to visit and is also volunteering for the White Shark Trust as a guest.

Our friend Trey SNOW (Wilmington, North Carolina, USA) returned as a guest on the 6th of May to Gansbaai and the White Shark Trust following a month of travelling and diving in Mozambique and the eastern part of South Africa.

On Wednesday the 25th of May 2005, after a few days of stormy weather, we drove to Kleinbaai with Lamnidae, ready to launch... But once there, we realised that the sea was still very rough... too rough for Lamnidae, our small 21ft research boat. Fortunately, Shark Diving Unlimited had only seven guests, and they invited us to join them on Barracuda for the day!
This was the perfect opportunity for our assistants to get into the cage also... Especially since we forgot out data sheets on the bonnet of our vehicle in the harbour. We observed seven different White Sharks today, and we were very happy to be on a larger boat! Our assistants all had a great dive in the Shark cage! This was also Justin's last day before leaving on his safari...
Justin is leaving on Thursday for a two-week safari from Namibia across to Zimbabwe, and then another ten days of diving in Mozambique where he hopefully will be able to dive with some Whale Sharks... On the Gansbaai side, we expect some more bad weather, heavy seas and winter storms to hit out coastline during the next few days...

Below are some underwater photographs taken by Justin today from the Shark cage...

Late afternoon on Wednesday the 25th of May 2005, we (Michael, Tracey and Chris) drove Justin to Cape Town. Justin is catching an early bus ride from Cape Town to Namibia on Thursday to start his overland expedition that will take him across Southern Africa to Zimbabwe and then Mozambique... A visit to Cape Town was also the perfect opportunity for us to go see Star Wars Episode III also!!! We stayed at the Sunflower Stop Backpacker overnight, and we were entertained by a dancing flame thrower...
Read what Justin HUBBEL had to say about his experience at the White Shark Trust Field Research Assistantship...

I was a research assistant with The White Shark Trust for April, May, and part of June in 2005.  I have had a passion for sharks throughout my life and through searching on the internet came across one of the most appealing sites on the net.  It was www.whitesharktrust.org.  I was amazed to see that the man whom was conducting this research program was accepting applicants to help assist in his project. I jumped on the chance to apply thinking... what are the chances of me being accepted to this program. This was in 2003.  To my amazement I received a reply email that said that there was space available and I would be accepted for the summer of '03.  I was ecstatic, however I had already had my course work planned out and was going to be taking summer courses during that period. I had to decline, saying that I would be interested in the future.  December of '04 I decided to roll the dice again and try my luck with the application process. About 2 weeks later a return email was sent to me saying that there is space available if I would like to assist for April and May. This was one of the most exiting moments in my life. I am not lying when I say sitting at the library reading that email brought tears to my eyes and gave me the chills. The thought of actually being able to have the chance to go and work with a creature that I have cared for the majority of my life was immeasurable. I began the process of all of the travel arrangements, which included me quitting my job.

Fast forward to my arrival in Capetown.  I knew right from the start this was going to be a great experience.  The Scholl's STRONGLY Recommended a fabulous place named St. John's Lodge.  Let me tell you that place was 5 star.  After being pampered there for several days I, along with 2 other assistants went to the airport to pick up the Man the myth the legend, none other than Michael Scholl.  I was a little apprehensive about our meeting thinking that he would be very serious, however the 2 hour ride back to his home proved that he knows how to turn it on, and turn it off.  The house that we were brought to was beautiful (sad that the have since moved), it overlooked the water and the lovely sardine factory.  I was introduced to his wife Tracey, their 2 dogs, Billie and my favorite Max E Pad, and their "son" Chris.  The weather was not seaworthy for the first several days we were there which really made us all depressed, wondering when we would get to see the sharks.  Eventually that day came and let me tell you it was a moment in my life that will stay with me forever.  Even thinking about being out on that boat seeing our first shark gives me chills right now.  My whole life thinking about sharks, watching programs on TV with them, and now me being out on the water seeing them in person is something that you cannot comprehend until being there doing it.  There was for me about 2 and a half more months of this for me with each and every day out on the boat being just as exciting as the first moment out there.  I awoke without the help of an alarm each day at 5 a.m. in anticipation of going out to sea. There were days where that was not possible due to inclement weather, which made us all antsy, however we always were able to look forward to the next time out.  I have so many memories of being out on the boat that I could fill a book with.  We had days with no sharks, we had a day with a record setting 31 different sharks.  There was the time where the gigantic pod of dolphins passed, whales, the times we got to go in the cage.  A very memorable experience was the ever so curious shark #7, Michael I know you remember that one. The duties on the boat are fun.  You really are hands on and do work.  I felt that I was not just a spectator, but a participant in this program for the period that I was there.  The jobs can be stressful as I can account for.  I remember the day I was on bait line, and yes it got taken from me several times, well more than several, in fact one shark even took the float, and fearing the sharks coming in and taking it so I wouldn't have to hear Michael scream at me again (j/k).  But yes I think it was shark #22 that day, a very speedy young one about 2.2m that every time would dart at the bait line.  It got so bad that as soon as he was spotted I would immediately yank in the bait line.  The worst memory I have is after my side trip to several different countries I returned to assist for a few more weeks and got sea sick for the first time and had to curl up in the fetal position in the front of the boat.  Believe me that was bad, but as soon as we returned to land I was my usual self.  Working with the sharks was great, and if possible I would love to do that everyday for my entire life, it was a great experience.  But there is much more to the program than just work, and being with the sharks.  Getting to meet and work with the Scholl family was great.  They are such nice people and easy to get along with.  My time I was in Gansbaai I would refer to them as Mom and Dad.  I felt like family when I was there and had a great time, more than any words could express.  I even got into trouble occasionally for trying to teach Max to bite and be aggressive with her toys, and for sneaking food to her.  I could go on and on about my experience and the things that I did out there, but the only way to really see what it is all about is to go and see it for yourself.  I guarantee that this will be the most memorable moment in your life and the only downside to it all is knowing that it comes to an end.  The upside to that is that you get to look forward to your return to Gansbaai, the sharks, and last but not least the ever-so-loving Scholls.

P.S. I miss you Max, and thanks for the scar Billie, and thank you Michael and Tracey for everything, I really mean it, you guys are the best.

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