Shark Chronicles 052 – Gale force weeks

Shark Chronicles 052 – Gale force weeks

Posted by Enrico Gennari on July 8, 2009

“The National Weather Service in Cape Town, Western Cape South Africa has issued a gale warning for the entire coast of the Western Cape- Winds are expected to reach 70-80km/h and waves are expected to reach over 15m. Ocean going vessels, especially small craft are urged to seek immediate safe harbour.”

This is the weather report that the Oceans staff and us interns were greeted with just about two weeks ago now. Needless to say, we weren’t expecting to be out on the water for a few days. The days before the storm were incredible, though, with up to 7 sharks per chum trip and they were getting bigger as well- up to 3.3m! As the storms waves started to roll in, all hands were on deck to try our best to protect the aquarium from the raging sea, but as with any storm preparedness, all we could really do was hope for the best. Nearly all of Mossel Bay joined the interns at the pub Big Blue (which is just on top of the aquarium at the point) to watch the mighty waves wreak their havoc. To keep ourselves entertained while there were marooned on dry ground, the interns headed to the Mother City, Cape Town, for the weekend and were treated to the sobering and uplifting experience at Robben Island, and the breathtaking views afforded few with a clear day on Table Mountain.

Returning from Cape Town we found the aquarium to be no worse for wear, just a bit of sand, and the time had come to bid farewell to several interns. It’s an interesting time for Oceans interns at that point as we have so many memories shared with those people, but so many to look forward to with the new interns to arrive. A proper going away party was in order and spit braai-ing an entire lamb certainly did the trick. (Bubblegum, Rodeo, Amandine, and Ross, you are all missed! And a hearty South African welcome to Leah, Erin, Elisa, Rob, Tom, and Niels!)) The new interns were whisked to Mossel Bay from the George Airport and were treated in their first week to sharks finally returning to the bay after the storm stirred up the water quite a bit. Not only did they get the chance to chum the first week, but also to experience the pure luxury of 24-hour seal surveys. There is nothing quite like spending the night on Cheetah with four of your closest friends counting seals…

The weather has returned to its former glorious sunny and warm self after the storm, and the water visibility is slowly but surely getting better and the sharks most certainly are making their return. The winter is upon us now and that means two things in Mossel Bay- crappy weather, and BIG seal-hunting sharks. The weather so far has been fantastic, and the sharks are indeed getting bigger. Hopefully a predation is surely in all interns’ near futures!

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