Six Island School alumni just finished their first week with Shark Explorers in South Africa. Here’s what their experience has been like so far, in their own words.
Off the boat, a step…and then, crash! Icy water runs through the wetsuit and awakens the mind and soul. Together, 7,400 miles always from Eleuthera, six Island School alums have begun to explore the depths of South Africa.
A typical day usually consists of an early morning wake up followed by a quick coffee and breakfast. We begin our days with two sets of dives, one or two in the morning followed by a lunch, then off to a longer afternoon dive. This week, our mornings dives were spent doing SSI specialty courses, including Enriched Air Nitrox, Deep, Navigation and Night Diver. Apart from our certifications, we assisted the Shark Explorers team in water sampling of False Bay, testing pH levels, salinity and turbidity. Another task on the water involved the Shark Explorers cage diving boats. We served as deckhands, prepping the boat and aiding to chum the water, in order to attract seven gill cow sharks around seal island. We usually regroup around lunch time to refill our tanks and eat a quick meal to recharge our batteries. Afterwards the afternoon consists of our second or third dives of the day. In our first week alone, our underwater interactions have ranged from five different species of sharks, playful seals, slimey hagfish, breaching whales, and a range of octopuses. We navigated urchin barrens, kelp forests, and boat wrecks, siting vibrant walks of life in each location. As our time continues with Shark Explorers, we’re eager to meet what else the sea has to offer.
Outside of the dive center, we’ve enthusiastically toured Cape Town and its surroundings. We drove around the Cape of Good Hope and were subsequently stunned by the gorgeous view and sunset of Chapman’s Peak. Wildlife sightings have been exciting and abundant, ranging from the penguins at Boulder’s Beach to the baboons and ostriches at Cape Point. Closer to home, we have a baboon that likes to visit the dive center looking for food! We filled our rainy days with a visit to the aquarium of Cape Town, followed by shopping and eating at local markets. However, on sunnier days, we journeyed into the bush for a safari tour at the Aquila Game Reservation. They had an array of wild animals native to South Africa, including lions, African elephants, giraffes, hippos, and endangered rhinos! During one free afternoon, we hiked up Admiral’s Waterfall in Simon’s Town, and at the peak, were greeted by a scenic view of the town (as well as a few cheeky baboons). As the weather improves, we’re hoping to hike Lion’s Head and Table Mountain.
Each day is busy, active, and, thrilling. Our Island School education has taught us to never stop exploring, so true to the school we all love, we will continue to do just that in Cape Town!
Looking forward to sharing more of our South African adventures,
Sachi Elias (FA ’14)
Jamie Frost (FA ’14)
Olivia Gomez (FA ’15)
Paityn Wedder (FA ’15)
Liam Carroll (FA ’17)
Jake Barrett (ST ’18)