Monthly Archives: October 2012

MARINE VOLUNTEER WEEK TWO

shark eggs

Shark egg cases

Time really does fly when you are having fun Monday morning and we met up with Oli and got given our intern tasks for the week, then we went out to the shore to collect shark eggs from the local species of benthic elasmobranchs. We collected 169 egg cases in total.

Part of the research being carried out is to look at other species in this ecosystem and to see how they interact with the Great Whites. Smaller species of shark such as the different species of catsharks live around the many reef systems where the Great Whites spend their summer months, so its good to get a idea of the complete ecosystem.

In the afternoon we had a lecture from Pieter who is the head crew member on the boat, his lecture gave us more details about Slashfin.

Tuesday we spent the morning on Slashfin, and Evil Fin stopped by to say hello. It was great to be able to tell the clients that we had seen her on the research boat and then lead into telling them about the research being carried out by Marine Dynamics. In the afternoon me and Karen (another intern) set about identifying and quantifying the shark eggs collected, and did some basic analysis on them; over 50% of eggs were from a single species of shark: the Pyjama Catshark.

shark tracking

Shark tracking on Lwazi

Wednesday we spent the whole day on Lwazi tracking Anarchy a 3.5m female Great White Shark. She spent the whole time following a pod of Southern Right Whales including a couple of calves who were breaching and flipper waving, which was a treat to see. While tracking we got trained on using the omni directional, and directional hydrophones, data recording and how to drive the boat.

Thursday the new shark cage was operational so I got to go out with the crew in the morning and test out the cage and make suggestions on how to improve it, then on the morning Slashfin trip I got to go in and try out the new cage, as well as getting to see some big sharks pass right by the cage it was really fun. On the way to Shark Ally we saw a shoal of Snook started jumping out of the water while hunting sardines. The waters here really are rich with wildlife its amazing to see everything so close. The afternoon was spent

great white shark

Great White Shark with satellite tag

tracking Anarchy again, we also saw Poseidon – a 3m male Great White with a satellite tag. We got the decoy out but he was more interested in looking at the hydrophone and then at the same time a 4m shark showed up to have a look at what was happening. The sharks really are curious and cautious about anything new in their environment. You can see them looking and thinking all of the time which is amazing to see. Today Anarchy spent most of her time near the bottom of the seabed in very shallow water (3-2.5m water depth!).

Friday was spent the morning on Slashfin, the sharks took a little bit of time to show up but when they did they started off cautious but by they end there confidence had grown and they were jumping out of the water at the bait and decoy. The afternoon we did another track on Lwazi, we found Anarchy immediately as soon as we put the hydrophone in the water, however tracking was not as straight forward as sea conditions were a bit more wavy today than previous days so we could not track her for as long. At the end of the trip we stopped to watch a pod of Whales breaching and swimming near us before heading back for the day.

MARINE VOLUNTEER-BEST TIME OF YOUR LIFE

great white shark

Great White Shark

Our first day we got to experience life at Marine Dynamics from the point of view of the client, going out on the cage diving boat Slashfin, and doing a cage dive. We saw Southern Right Whales, Great White Sharks, and Cape Fur Seals, before getting settled into our new home. Everyone is really friendly and welcoming.

The next day we were given a lecture about the research done at Marine Dynamics and got our uniforms, which was really exciting. Then we went our on the research boat Lwazi for a tour of the areas we will be working in at sea. Our training continued in the afternoon as we got to see how Slashfin works from the point of view of a volunteer, a good combination of a little bit of work and a lot of fun. We prepared the wetsuits and boat for going out, and we got to go in the shark cage again. There were a lot of big sharks around the boat today which was amazing to see. Back on shore we helped unload to boat and put the wetsuits and life jackets away.

On Wednesday the interns had a shore day installing programs to our laptops in preparation for helping with data analysis, and a lecture from the skipper of Slashfin; Henny about going to sea. Thursday was spent out on Slashfin, going to sea every day to look at sharks never gets boring, its brilliant to be able to see them on a daily basis. Once again we saw some big sharks around the boat.

shark cage diving

Shark Cage Diving with Marine Dynamics

Friday came around really quickly, as interns we went out on Lwazi again to look for Great Whites to ID and add to the database. We went to Shark Alley by Dyer Island, and quickly saw there were no sharks around when the seals start to play with our decoy and swim in our chum line!! So we upped anchor and headed to the shallows were the sharks are known to be at this time of year. We had not been there long when a 3m shark decided to play tug of war with our decoy! Shortly afterwards a 4m shark show up and grabbed the bait, all this commotion attracted a massive 4.5m female named Evil Fin to our boat. It was amazing to see her so close she was so graceful and truly massive. As Lwazi is a smaller boat than Slashfin you get to experience these wonderful animals even closer which leaves you in awe every time. We spent most of the day on Lwazi, when we got back we had another lecture, this time from Tracey who organizes the volunteers and interns.

By Saturday everyone knows the routine, this morning we went out onto Slashfin and by now we work like a well oiled machine, giving plenty of time to take lots of good pictures. This trip was special as we saw the marine big 5; Southern Right Whales, Dolphins, Seals, Pengiuns and of course the Great White sharks. I was super happy to see all 5 in 1 trip. In the afternoon we all had some well earned time off, then we went out for evening meal at the Great White house to celebrate our first week – the food here is amazing.

Sunday was by now a typical day on Slashfin in the morning, then we had a tagging and tracking lecture from Oli in the afternoon. The good thing about here is there is always something interesting to do.