Up close and personal

Up close and personal

Murdoch University marine science student Colby Bignell (20) of Kewdale can vouch for the exciting nature of such a role, after recently returning from a trip to South Africa where he spent two weeks in Mossel Bay as part of the White Shark Africa ” Shark Warriors program.

Murdoch University Vice Chancellor’s student development program travel partly funded the trip, which enabled Mr Bignell to work on a research project collecting data on great white sharks.

‘I also spent some time tagging and releasing species of smaller sharks to be added to an international database,’ he said.

Data on the sex, size, species and location of the sharks was collected for the Oceanographic Research Institute, which monitors shark numbers and potential over-fishing.

‘I have a huge passion for sharks and wanted to do something different that would give me an experience few others have had, and South Africa gave me that,’ Mr Bignell said.

‘Having a 3.5m shark chomping on the cage less than 30cm in front of me was amazing.’

As a child, Mr Bignell spent a lot of time exploring the waters around his grandparents’ island shack in the Dampier Archipelago.

He said the South African experience had refreshed his early fascination and cemented his life-long commitment to working on conservation of the ocean.

The South African shark program is open to anyone with a keen interest in sharks and aims to boost community awareness and education about the conservation of all shark species.