Location: Durban, South Africa
Today began with an early wake-up and breakfast so that Argo’s crew could head off on an excursion. First, we visited the Kwa-Zulu Natal Shark Board to watch a shark dissection. South Africa maintains a system of nets off public beaches in order to remove potentially dangerous animals from the water. The students have been studying this topic in Marine Biology, and today was an awesome opportunity to view and learn about this scientific and conservation issue first hand. We learned that the shark nets are not intended as barriers to the beach, but that they are rather fishing devices. Sharks can swim around or under the nets, so the primary benefit to swimmers is decreased numbers of sharks. The presentation claimed that no swimmers had been attacked since the implementation of these nets; however, this contradicts articles that the students have read in class, giving them extra food for thought. The presentation also touched on by-catch, a serious and deadly side effect of the nets. Many other marine organisms, including turtles and dolphins, can become entrapped in the nets. Next week these issues will continue to be discussed in class. After the dissection, the excursion continued with lunch and downtime at the mall. Everyone returned to Argo for a delicious chili dinner. During the squeeze, we reflected on personal goals we all hope to reach before the end of the trip. This evening the crew is settling in and preparing for tomorrow’s onboard “Thanksgiving” meal. Yes, we know its not quite Thanksgiving at home, but tomorrow gives us the opportunity to enjoy a terrific meal in calm waters amongst our onboard family!