I had the pleasure of spending three weeks participating in the Cape RADD Marine Science Field Course. Throughout my time there, I was able to master a variety of scuba diving research techniques, take part in multiple citizen science excursions and research projects, explore and learn about False Bay, and meet the most amazing people.
‘…in my 13 years of education, I have not been able to apply my learning as directly as I did at Cape RADD…’
Cape RADD is located in Simon’s Town, South Africa: known for its quaint buildings, rich history, baboons, and aesthetic beaches which are home to the colony of African penguins. Coming from the United States, Simon’s Town was the perfect place to spend three weeks because it allowed for me to venture to a variety of restaurants and cafes, go to the famous Boulders Beach to see penguins, make friends with the locals, and really experience the diversity of marine life that False Bay has to offer.
‘Cape RADD was so much more than sitting in a classroom and listening to lectures…’
I graduated from Bates College, in Lewiston Maine, a week before coming to Cape RADD, where I was an environmental studies major and math minor. To be honest, I wasn’t exactly ready to transition back into another educational setting, but my experience with Cape RADD was so much more than sitting in a classroom and listening to lectures. Yes, there were lectures but in my 13 years of education, I have not been able to apply my learning as directly as I did at Cape RADD. I would learn about the biodiversity in False Bay via lecture and then go snorkeling later that day to physically see all of that biodiversity myself. Or I would come across many jellyfish during a scuba dive and then later look at them under the microscope back at the Ocean Hub. These are just two examples of the immersive experience that Cape RADD provided me in the short three weeks I was there.
I have been a swimmer my whole life – taking any chance I can get to hop in the pool or the ocean. That is one of the main reasons why I signed up for the course in the first place – to be in the water and experience False Bay. Luckily for me, we were in the water almost every day: using quadrants, transects, performing roaming fish surveys, or taking micro plastic samples. Everything had a purpose. It felt so much more meaningful to know that the research we worked on during the field course was directly helping and contributing to ongoing Cape RADD projects. Because of this, my scuba diving skills and my overall understanding of the ocean improved drastically. I was even able to get my Night Dive and Limited Visibility qualification through Impact Divers during my time in Simon’s Town.
Aside from the course itself, I had the most amazing time exploring Cape Town and Simon’s Town during my days off. I was able to go to a rugby game, go to the waterfront area in Cape Town, get a tour of Cape Point and visit Boulders Beach to see the penguins!! On top of that, the people I met along the way made the entire experience so much more meaningful. Traveling on my own (and being the only student for the month) really allowed me to immerse myself in the community and culture. I made friendships and connections with people that I probably wouldn’t have if I was traveling in a group. That is what is so special about Cape RADD – they created a life for me in Simon’s Town. I would 100% recommend the Marine Science Field Course, it is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I would do it all over again if I could. Cape RADD had a huge impact on me and I am certain that I will return to Simon’s Town again at some point in the future.