My Life After the Gili Shark Conservation Project
It’s been one year since I first set foot on the paradise island of Gili Air to become a Shark Warrior with the Gili Shark Conservation Project. I was a 22 year-old solo traveler, fresh out of University, with no real compass other than an unshakable passion for the underwater world. Looking back, I never could have imagined how much my life was going to change.
After completing my Divemaster internship with the Gili Shark Conservation, I felt prepared to take the next step in my diving career. I was immediately hired as a Divemaster by a dive center in Thailand, which offered shark conservation tours called “Shark Watch” which gave guests the opportunity to swim with the large population of Black-Tip Reef Sharks.
Of course I was excited for the incredible diving in Thailand, but I was most looking forward to having the opportunity to guide these “Shark Watch” tours and continue gaining experience in marine conservation.
Becoming friends with Black Tip Reef Sharks
After a few weeks of guiding “Shark Watch”, I was able to develop a close relationship with the local charismatic Black Tip Reef Sharks. When these incredible animals felt comfortable with me, they would often swim alongside me, circle around me, and even underneath me, seemingly to hide from other groups of divers who they did not trust.
Unlike some of the other dive centers, the tours that I lead always had the sharks’ best interest in mind. Before guests were allowed to enter the water, they were thoroughly briefed on how they should interact with these sharks.
Educating others about shark conservation is the best feeling in the world
As much as I enjoyed my time in the ocean appreciating and sharing the beauty of these magnificent creatures, the education component of the course was incredibly rewarding as well. It was imperative to make sure the guests understood the importance of sharks and the challenges they face. After the session in the ocean, I gave lectures on shark biology, physiology, and conservation issues.
For me, educating people who had no idea about shark conservation was so fulfilling not only as a diver, but especially as a Shark Warrior. This opportunity would not have been possible had I not received an excellent education myself from the Gili Shark Conservation team.
Attending ADEX in Singapore, one of the largest dive shows in the world
In March, I had the opportunity to attend the Asian Dive Exposition Ocean Festival, and this year’s theme was Sharks. At this three day event, I met some of the world’s leading shark conservation photographers, researchers, and activists. Gili Shark Conservation gave me the background knowledge I needed to engage in exciting conversations, as well as a platform to share experiences I had both in the Gilis and in Thailand.
I am endlessly grateful to the Gili Shark Conservation team for the inspiration, guidance, and support
As I reflect on the past year, I know that the experiences I’ve had were things I had only ever dreamed about in the past. From when I started with Gili Shark Conservation as an Open Water Diver, who had never seen a shark, to where I am now. I cannot believe all that I have been able to accomplish in just a years time. I am endlessly grateful to the Gili Shark Conservation team for the inspiration, guidance, and support I’ve received to follow my dreams. Without my experience as a Shark Warrior, I know would not be where I am today.
To anyone wondering if it’s possible to pursue your passions and live your dreams, all I have to say is with the right foundations, anything is possible.