BITTEN BY RESEARCH BUG
SHE HAS ALWAYS LOVED THE OCEAN. JOINING MIKE HORN ON A SHARK EXPEDITION HAS TAKEN SHAYA’S LOVE TO EVEN GREATER DEPTHS
My high school principal, Barry Courtney, allowed me to go because he foresaw that the expedition would be life-changing – and it was.
A few years later, Mike is now on his wildest expedition yet, called Pole2Pole, which is a two-year circumnavigation of the world over land and sea, passing through both the north and south poles.
The 50-year-old is also a keen environmentalist and tries to combine his expeditions with different projects, including this latest shark research one.
That is how I find myself in Cape Town as part of a team of 10 young people from around the world.
Led by Dr Alison Kock, we help half a dozen marine biologists tag 15 sharks in areas in which they had never tagged before.
Very little is known about sevengill sharks but scientists must learn more about their movements to help their conservation.
They do know, however, that these primitive animals can grow to 3m long and live for up to 50 years.
Sevengill sharks play an important part in our eco-system and they keep the ocean healthy by balancing the food chain.
The sharks are caught on drumlines, and gently brought on to the boat where we take DNA samples and insert an acoustic tag that can last seven years.
They are kept at ease by someone who hoses saltwater over their gills before being released within 15 minutes.
In coming years, Alison’s team will able to monitor these tags and the database of information will be used to help their conservation.
Once again, this expedition opens my eyes – and this time it was to the truth about sharks.
These marine animals are not the killing machines which they are sometimes portrayed to be.
Instead, they are important creatures of our seas and need our help to ensure their conservation.