|Shelagh MacMILLAN's experience with the White Shark Trust Field Research Assistantship...
It is quite difficult to know where to start when writing about an experience that you had unless you are one of those naturally gifted people when it comes to putting things into words. I am not as you are just about to find out and nothing you read here will do justice to my six weeks in South Africa with Michael, Tracey, Billy and the sharks.
I had only ever seen sharks before in aquariums so I did not know quite how I would feel seeing one, especially one as large as a great white. They were really not as intimidating as I thought they would be, however their power and strength were often evident so I have a respect for them as I do for all wild animals, especially big ones with sharp teeth!
When I was not throwing up over the poor shark that that been lured in by that horrendous chum smell (more of a deterrent than an attraction I would of thought), I was amazed at how gracefully these creatures moved and by their shows of intelligence when they seemed to know that the bait was going to be thrown in for them again so they waited for it.
Not only were the sharks impressive but the other sea life was pretty fantastic too, also the landscape, and that nice coffee shop which sold lovely chocolate cake. It was just amazing to go for a walk along the coast and see the whales breeching in the distance looking like they were really enjoying life.
I am extremely grateful to Michael for introducing me to the world of the white shark, and for dealing with the chum side of things himself. Though my photos of the sharks were really quite awful, just a lot of dark shapes and splashing water, I have memories that will stay with me for a very long time. Im glad I made the decision to go to South Africa, I gained a lot from the experience and hopefully contributed in a small way to Michaels research of these fascinating creatures, which is much needed in order to help secure their future.