|Giovanni writes about his experience in Gansbaai with the White Shark Trust...
I spent a whole month with Michael Scholl and his wife, Tracy, at Gansbaai. The month of June 2002 was a mixed bag of weather so we could not get out everyday, but the days we did get out to Dyer Island were fantastic, with too many sharks to mention there were some memorable animals. The largest being close to 4.5 mts and the smallest (my favourite) only reaching around 1.7 mts (it was a real cutie).
Mike and Tracy make great hosts and do care about their assistants, they don't just take your money like so many other supposed 'research' groups. Mike cares about the animals, and Tracy cares about Mike (which is lucky, 'cus she married him).
The accomodation is better than most student accomodation that is generally found around the world, and meals are always fun, social, times.
During our time off we got into Hermanus a couple of times and Mike & Tracy took us on a few day-trips; they really do care that assistants enjoy their time, but we never felt that we HAD to join in.
During June we were lucky enough to spend five days on the Algoa anchored in Mossel bay working with senior scientists from Marine and Coastal Management; this however is a rarity for assistants. It was just a coincidence that it was going on while I was there.
I found the experience fantastic value for money (dependent on your own currency), and would suggest that if you are dithering as to whether to apply or not I would definitely go for it. Do not confuse this trip with so many others were you would just become a 'tourist', this is the real thing, GREAT WHITE RESEARCH.
By the end of the trip Mike, Tracy, Nick the Swede and EVEN Jenna the Scot had become my friends, as well as other people in the industry such as Ryan (NZ), and tourism people (Juan etc).
If anyone would like further info. from an assistants point of view email to:
(link the text before and after the "_at_" part with the usual @ to send an eMail - This is to avoid spam software to get his eMail address)