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

The Weekend Post - Cairns Eye - - Front Page - WORDS// PIC­TURES // D M I T RY S H A R O M OV

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.

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