The White Shark Trust Field Research Assistantship is proud to introduce you to our assistants:

Alex BROWN (Burnham, England), Trey SNOW (Wilmington, North Carolina, USA), Nicolas PADE (Nivaa, Denmark), John NICHOLS (La Jolla, California, USA) and Alice CLARKE (London, England).

On Monday the 29th of November 2004, on our Haibaai shore transect, we observed five different White Sharks and a pod of about twenty Bottlenose Dolphins... We followed the Dolphins for a while as they were swimming across the bay... Two White Sharks were either crossing their path or following the Dolphins...
We then anchored in Geelbekgat, where we were sheltered from the strong northwesterly wind blowing... We only observed one White Shark chuming, but she remained around the boat for over two hours. We had seen this Shark a couple of days ago already in Haibaai as well as during one of our shore transect last week...
A young Cape Fur Seal swam to Lamnidae while our White Sharks was circling the boat... The Seal was playing along our anchor rope, and suddenly the Shark swam upwards from deep towards the Seal... The water visibility was quite good and the Shark was swimming fairly slowly, the Seal swam under Lamnidae and got away...
With this winter wind blowing and with a swell warning for tomorrow, this might sadly be the last day at sea for Alex and John... We are all very sad and sorry to disrupt this great group of assistants who were with us for the past two months... A group photograph was in order!
We also had to wait for the last day to all wear our t-shirts at the same time to be able to take a group picture... Trey designed and made those five t-shirts for us in the US. Thank you very much Trey from the team!
Read what John NICHOLS had to say about his experience at the White Shark Trust Field Research Assistantship...

"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever."- Jacques-Yves Cousteau

This was a return pilgrimage to Gansbaai for me.  After seeing the white sharks up close in 2003 I knew I would have to spend more time with these magnificent creatures, I just didn’t expect the opportunity to come so quickly.  In retrospect, it was the perfect time and place for my return engagement.  Mike and Tracey couldn’t have been any more welcoming, and the three other assistants that I got to work with felt like friends from the first moment (call it strangers joined by innate bonds of shared enthusiasm and love for the white shark and adolescent humor).

"All good things are wild, and free." - Henry David Thoreau

White sharks were the last species to be successfully held in captivity by man…I bet Henry would say they were pretty damn cool too.  If mother nature had a mascot she might choose these sharks because they certainly have an aura of unbridled energy about them that reminds us how beautiful/magical/toothy the world we haven’t laid our greasy paws on really is.  Observing their behavior for one day is enthralling, after a week or so it’s enlightening.

Because you never can tell, What goes on down below! This pool might be bigger, Than you or I know!” – Dr. Seuss

After four years of toil, a fine institution of higher learning recently awarded me a Bachelor of Science degree, and yet I still had no idea how people might go about achieving higher degrees in biology.  For this reason, I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to be a part of such an amazing project and see how cool field research for said advanced degrees can be. At the moment I don’t know what path I will ultimately follow, but I am grateful to Michael for helping me see what is possible.

Unfortunately, no one can be told what the W.S.T. is.  You have to see it for yourself.” - Morpheus

Well…I am sure that is what he would have said…I bet II and III wouldn’t have managed the physically impossible state of sucking and blowing at the same time.  I really can’t say enough about the experience so I guess I should stop here and say if you are at all interested in learning about white sharks, field research, people from other countries and their life experiences, and don’t happen to be a hopeless malcontent this assistantship is well worth it (even if ‘it’ include a 50 jillion mile plane ride from Southern Cali to South Africa).

I need to say something negative so it’s less obvious that I drank the W.S.T. Koolaid.  The upstairs shower is a tight squeeze for people 6’3” err….. 1.88M or taller.  You can go from hating the ubiquitous Great White Shark song to transcribing it in five keys in order to fill the shark void after about four weeks.

Much love,

John Nichols

Letter received in January 2005

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