This Sunday begins Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, an annual broadcast horror fest programming block that has become huge over the past 25 years…so let’s look at some ways to counter the Da-Dum, Da-Dum Jaws soundtrack that thunders in your head every time you dip a toe in the surf (or jump in a pool or fill your bathtub). Volunteering with this world’s amazing shark populations is a great way to counter the press-inflated stories about shark attacks and understand these magnificent creatures. I’ve been lucky enough to have experiences with different sharks, from Great Whites to Whale Sharks to nurse, black-tip reef, and others…and look forward to many more.
Enkosini Eco Experience in Gaansbai, South Africa, as well as White Shark Projects (who I dove with, in that same shark-heavy zone of South Africa) are eco-focused, environmental leaders, and have lots of openings for dedicated volunteers.
Ecuador-based Eco Volunteer UP has shark research volunteer opportunities, helping research shark populations near artisanal fishing port village, Puerto Lopez, on Ecuador’s coast.
I’ve had the memory-of-a-lifetime experience of being in the water with the Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme and can’t recommend volunteering with these folks enough. Science rules the excursions, but the pure joy of encountering such grace will be what you carry with you long after you get home (see previous blog posting here).
I’m a big fan of Earthwatch, and find myself extraordinarily intrigued by their shark study volunteer expedition in Belize.
This is just a small sampling of shark volunteer options around the oceans of the world…dive in and find one for your next trip (after you’ve obsessed about Shark Week almost as much as you did the Olympics).