This was my first time working as a volunteer with Great Whites and I enjoyed it immensely!
You get so “up close and personal” with the sharks!
We had volunteers from the USA, Canada, Israel, Holland, Italy, Austria and Scotland.
We were immediately given our gear. Make sure to ask for boots as you will need them!
We were taken to our cabins in their new facility. The rooms were clean; the bathroom had plenty of hot water (which we needed as it was cold in August!) and a nice kitchen in each cabin.
My first trip to sea was actually aboard the Whale Whisperer. It was a cold and rainy day but I did not care, I love the water and got onto the top deck and reveled in it! We spotted a few whales up close and saw one breaching a bit of a distance off from us, it was beautiful! On our third day in we saw the sharks; they were great!! As you can see, I was inches from their teeth!
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! 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 marine biologists, Kelly and Sara, were funny and very knowledgeable. The local crew on the boat really know their stuff and it is like a ballet in motion watching them work.
What was unexpected for me was that I came for the sharks and fell in love with the penguins! I worked every day of my two weeks at the APSS. You have to prove yourself there. You scrub pens, floors, everywhere, but it is sooo worth it. I quickly became attached to the little guys and had no fear of their beaks. I was able to work with the penguins directly; administering nutrients via tubing, hand feeding fish and giving medications.
The best part – I got to be involved in their penguin release! They had ten penguins that we released. I was so blessed to have been able to open a cage and let the little guys go back to Dyer Island! You can see the release here: https://youtu.be/8FP5oonw8aA
This adventure was great! I would recommend at least three weeks here in order to do everything.
The project, from start to finish, was very well-organized; I always felt safe and the transportation across the country was coordinated well.
Overall, this project is definitely not a vacation-like experience, but an excellent cultural learning/immersion experience!