You do get “up close and personnel” with the sharks! I got picked up from the B.I.G. in Cape Town at 8:30am and after stopping off at some other hostels we were on our way to Gansbaai! We had volunteers from: USA, Canada, Israel, Holland, Italy, Austria and Scotland.
We were immediately given our gear (2 shirts, 1 ball cap and a wind jacket)and were taken to our cabins in their new facility. The rooms where clean; bathroom had plenty of hot water (which we needed as it was cold in August!) and a nice kitchen in each cabin. The coordinators drove us to the local grocery market to buy food and drinks; they did this every other day so buying food was no issue. Our first two days were spent training, meeting one of the Captains and enjoying a presentation at the Great White House. Our 3rd day in we made our first trip to sea was as a client, and the sharks were great! I had no idea I even took any decent pictures until we looked at the pictures that night. As you can see, I was inches from the teeth!
I spent most of my time on the Slashfin. I enjoy the water and never get seasick so this was Great! As a volunteer you are expected to help with boat prep and get all the guests into their gear both at the Great White House and on the Slashfin. The ride out to the diving site was always fantastic! You will get a lot of time to watch the sharks and film them, this is a major plus! The Marine Biologists, Kelly and Sara were funny and very knowledgeable. The local crews on the boat really know their stuff and it is like a ballet in motion watching them work.
What was unexpected for me was I came for the sharks and fell in Love with the Penguins! I worked every day of my two weeks at APSS. You have to prove yourself there. If you have ever seen the show Dirty Jobs one of them is cleaning Penguin poop and yes you are going to do it! You scrub pens, floors, everywhere, but it is so worth it. I quickly became attached to the little guys and had no fear of their beaks (which by the way can get you if you are not careful!) I was able to work with the Penguins directly; administering nutrients via tubing, hand feeding fish and giving medications. Since I work with my vet in Texas this was a whole new experience vs the livestock I am used to! The best part…I got to be involved in their Penguin release! They had 10 Penguins that we released on August 23, 2015 and I was so blessed to have been able to open a cage and let the little guys go back to Dyer Island! That on it's own would have made my entire trip but there was so much more to do! I went to Cape Agulhas, enjoyed seafood up and down the coast and you just cannot visit enough winery's! On our last two days we had a no sea day. We went into Hermanus and went shopping, sampled wines at Creative Winery and went to Stoney Point to see the Penguins in the wild. To say I am am in Love with Penguins is an understatement! The day we left we left early and went to the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town were I got to dive in the Predators tank with a couple of Ragged Tooth Sharks and a frisky Turtle (make sure to bring your dive card!) I loved it!! I plan on going back but spending at least a month there!