2017 Women's Soccer Trip to South Africa
Day 4 Blog
Mountain View, Calif. / Mountain View
We started our day earlier than any of us were prepared for with a bus departure time of 6:00 am. Breakfast boxes in hand, we all piled onto the bus ready to eat, and then take a nap during the two hour ride to Gansbaii for shark cage diving. As soon as the doors closed and the engine started, we began eating our breakfast that the hotel made for us. Shout out to the people who made that amazing meal filled with a sandwiches, muffins and just about everything one could ask for in a meal.
Once we got to Gansbaii, we were greeted by members of the Marine Dynamics team. Our team, coaches and family were split into two groups; one group would start their day with the shark cage diving, while the other group would see the African penguins in the rehabilitation center. I was in the group that was supposed to see the sharks first, so I was excited. Before we were allowed to see the sharks, we were shown some videos and given information about great white sharks in general, and then about the process of going out and actually finding the sharks.
After the briefing, which seemed to last forever, we finally were ready to walk to the boat. We were given life jackets and coats to wear, and then got on this beautiful boat. The weather was perfect, so all of us who get sea sick were grateful since good weather means gentle waves. It took us about ten minutes to get to the area where the great white sharks were, and even before we anchored, a shark swam right past us. It is lucky to see any sharks, let alone one as soon as we started our session, so all of us were ready to take full advantage.
Before going into the cage, we struggled to get our wetsuits on (soccer players' legs are not made for skin tight wetsuits for those wondering). After probably ten minutes of tugging, we were ready to see some sharks. Upon lowering ourselves into the cage, we realized that the water was as cold as an ice bath. Reminding ourselves that freezing for a bit was worth the trouble, we readied ourselves. The crew on board used various types of bait to lure the sharks near the cage, and immediately one shark swam right in front of my face. I had never felt so terrified in my life. We hit a bit of a lull and no more sharks seemed to be coming our way, but just like the insane team we are, we decided to serenade the sharks to get them to come to us. After multiple failed singing attempts, we finally succeeded by singing the one and only Like a Prayer by Madonna. A shark named Mini Nemo graced us with his presence, among a few others.
By the end of the shark diving, I learned so much about these enormous creatures. They are not what the movies make them out to be. They do not crave human flesh, but in fact seemed completely disinterested in us. Instead, these sharks were rather playful and curious, like small children at a playground. It was so sad to learn that people kill so many great white sharks that they are endangered. So, for those of you reading this please spread the truth about great white sharks to help educate people and protect the sharks.
Lastly, we went over to the penguin center where injured and sick penguins were treated. In here we were able to observe penguins through a one way glass in order to limit their interaction with humans. This allows them to return to the wild as soon as they are healthy. If I am being honest, seeing penguins was my favorite part of the day because watching these odd bird waddle around is the cutest thing I have ever seen. After this, our day was mostly over, with just a long bus ride and dinner left. I am so excited for what the rest of the trip has to offer us!