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A Guest of Sharks

by WildAid supporter, Mercedes Rosello

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Last year I embarked on the trip of a lifetime, taking half a year off to travel through South America. By December I had reached Galapagos. On arrival to Puerto Ayora, the economic capital of the archipelago, I made a beeline for a scuba centre and booked a few immersions to get acquainted with the marine wildlife.

Dives start early and we got on a diving boat before day break. Once we had started our descent through the water I decided to keep to the back of the group. I looked up towards the surface and I saw a scene that I will never forget: A group of young hammerhead sharks were swimming a few metres over our heads. The perfect silhouettes of the little sharks were effortlessly gliding above us. Some of them started wriggling amongst the bubbles that kept reaching for the surface from our scuba equipment, as if tickled by them.

Iā€™d have never thought that sharks could be cute, but this group of beautiful little creatures, surprised by the bubbles, were just that. I watched them, smiling, as they disappeared into the blue ocean waters.

My other dives were also impressive. Once, a large hammerhead shark well over three metres long took an interest in the group and came quite close to check us out. As usual I was last, and I had the feeling that this majestic animal was looking at me as if to ask ā€“ who are you and what are you doing in my home? I was touched by its curiosity. I never felt fear, but a healthy dose of respect. After all, who was I to be here? This was its reef, its home. It swam gently, very close to me for a while. In the end, having satisfied itself that I was really rather boring, it glided off into the darkness.

Several other shark encounters ensued. Pretty little white rip reef sharks seemed to pop up everywhere ā€“ extremely gentle, shy creatures who sleep a lot. They reminded me a little of my cat, back home. A four metre manta ray also graced us with its presence once.

I found it hard to leave Galapagos, and a little bit of my heart stayed behind for good. But it broke earlier this year, when I head the awful news that poachers had killed almost 1,600 sharks for their fins in Galapagos waters. That day I cried for the beautiful creatures I had met there, our majestic hosts in the water. Also that day I decided that I was going to make ocean wildlife conservation a priority in my life. For me, supporting organizations like WildAid has become extremely important.

Thank you, WildAid, for the work that you do in making the oceans a safer place for sharks and other marine creatures. Your work is now more necessary than ever before as our oceans are exploited to unsustainable levels, with sharks often taking the greatest toll.