Sharks are apex predators that have been living in the oceans for millions of years. Armed with rows of razor sharp teeth and swift speed, few would want to face their gaze. Today, twelve of us came face to face with one of the most feared creatures in the world.
The day started as usual with early morning food runs and discussing the day’s activities. Fear was still in the air and a few were still unsure what to expect. The drive to the False Bay in Simon’s Town was filled with scenic views of mountain ranges and beaches. As we approached our destination, the tension grew. We were greeted with a few light refreshments and a waver affirming we were doing this at OUR own risk. Then, we were off.
A 25 min boat ride brought us with in yards of a small island filled with thousands of brown fur seals. We watched and took pictures as they surfed the waves, flopped their flippers, and napped on shore; a comforting view right before group 1 had to prepare for the water.I would be going first. As we suited up, they placed a 2x6x6 steel cage in the water. No turning back. Suddenly, we heard, “SHARK LEFT.” Group 1 raced into the cage, I followed third just in case there was a malfunction with the cage the first two would figure it out. We took one last breath of air and submerged ourselves into the deep blue. There in front of me was the apex predator.
I could see his stream line body swimming across the cage with a sea of pink jellyfish in the background. At this moment, there was no fear. There was only respect as I was only an observer and he was a king. We all came back up for air and everyone’s faces were filled with joy. This was an experience of a lifetime.
What I like about this group is our diversity. Not only in culture, but in what we study as well. As an Animal Science and Biology major, today I was able to share some of my knowledge about some of the animals we saw and the ecosystem. One lesson I think everyone learned is how much humans are affecting the ecosystems and their wildlife. Hearing someone tell you about the impact pollution has on the world may not grab the attention of many people. But, seeing first hand a baby seal struggling to remove a plastic ring around its neck is a sight few can ignore. Luckily, we have people like the Apex Expeditions team who are committed to preserve our wildlife. They ventured closer to shore to help save a seal who would have surely met it end. As we make our way back home, I hope this story allows us to be more aware that our actions do have consequences.