Picture this: my husband, Aaron is 10 years old and it’s his favorite (tv) week of the year, Shark Week! He makes a fort in his living room, lines up all of his shark figurines and boats made of legos, and snacks and drinks ready so he doesn’t have to miss a second of the action.
That was then. Now, on our trip to South Africa, he brought his childhood dream to life, and I tagged along. At first, jumping into a steel cage only a few feet, (if that,) from a Great White Shark, (or many,) was not on the top of my to-do list, but I couldn’t let Aaron do it alone. Plus, I figured, who knows when I’d ever get the chance to do something like that again?
The moment we got on the boat any fear that was still lingering had disappeared. We did two trips with four dives total; on the first trip we saw 8 sharks and on the second we saw 14, which we were told was quite lucky. As we watched the sharks glide through the water their majestic grace struck me most. The scary man-eating image that is typically portrayed of sharks couldn’t be further from the truth once you actually see them up close. I felt so lucky to see the sharks in their natural habitat for just a few moments of their lives.
The company we dove with, Marine Dynamics, focuses first on shark conservation and second on eco-tourism. The company’s on-board biologist didn’t just teach us about the animals but also about the huge effort it takes to research them in hopes of protecting them. Over 100,000,000 sharks were killed last year; most for shark fin soup, some for sport and some based on fear. They are an animal that is so hard to study which means at this moment, we have no way of knowing just how many sharks are actually in the ocean right now. One thing researchers do say is that the general public’s lack of knowledge about Great White Sharks is most certainly harmful to the species. It’s important that we do educate ourselves on these giant ocean creatures. They are too important to our eco-system and our ocean’s beauty to ignore or to fear.
When I began my trip sharks were low on my radar, but now I am definitely an enthusiast. Remember, science saves sharks. The more we know, the more we care, and the more we care, the more we save.