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By: Thomas Leszkiewicz

With the oceans being in peril, it truly was an honour and a blessing to represent Sherwood on scientific expeditions on my last two diving trips.

Clipperton is a tiny island in the middle of the pacific, a five day boat ride in stormy weather to reach it. There, I was luckily enough to assist world-renowned scientist with their work; from surveying the reefs to tagging sharks at night.

It is saddening to see the impact of humans on such an isolated location, approximately 2000 kilometers from shore. It was littered with garbage from all corners of the world due to ocean currents! Also, there was a significant absence of adult sharks because of illegal fishing. It didn’t take more than two days after reaching the island when illegal fishermen appeared sailing a modern boat. A helicopter perched on it took off and began to investigate our 85 foot long vessel and what we were doing! However, they were spooked away when we decided to take pictures of them. It goes to show you the great lengths people go to for the illegal trafficking of wildlife. The goal of the expedition was to create a marine protected area and with the presence of endemic species and a shark kindergarten it will likely be so.

A second expedition was in Cabo Pulmo, Mexico to tag Bull Sharks with Dr. Mauricio Hoyos. The conditions and visibility were beyond perfect and we managed to tag 14 individuals!

Bull sharks are considered to be the most dangerous shark in the world due to their high rate of testosterone and their territories being close to swimmers. However that is not true, we were surrounded by 17 of them at one point and they are quite shy. It takes a lot of effort to approach a shark and most of the time they get spooked away. After one is tagged, the individuals around get quite agitated. I vividly remember a shark being darted and two minutes later, while Dr. Hoyos was reloading his harpoon, we were surrounded by (from what I could count) 15 of them! Circling us and checking us out, a once in a lifetime experience!

My passion for the ocean and its wildlife is what drives me to pursue work in scuba diving. As much as I enjoy being in the water, it is more gratifying (and exhilarating!) to dive with scientist and individuals who contribute so much to the protection of our oceans.

 

 

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