During my time as an intern at Oceans Research so far, I have been able to experience a whole range of exciting and challenging tasks associated with various marine animals and their environment.
Like many, the most amazing experience so far has been the ability to see one of the most feared animals worldwide, the Great White Shark.
After a few days of bad weather the sun finally came out over the beautiful Mossel Bay and we were able to commence our jobs as interns. My first chumming trip was in the afternoon of February the 4th. It was an overcast day and quite choppy out on the water but nonetheless everyone was extremely pumped and excited to see their first shark. We pulled anchor at a site called Blue Houses and everyone chose their jobs. I began the all important job of chumming which consists of mushing up sardines and pouring it into the ocean so that it will hopefully attract great whites towards our boat. After only around 20 minutes we had our first dark shadow approach the boat. It was such a surreal feeling once it finally surfaced and attempted to steal the bait. I was so amazed at how curious and gentle it was as apposed to the violent, aggressive behaviour you hear about through the media. As the afternoon rolled on we managed to see a massive 8 Great Whites which to me was the most perfect way to start my internship.
Although chumming trips are always the most popular amongst the interns, Oceans Research also offer you an insight into the skills required for researching as well as other general tasks that are useful in a marine based career. These tasks can range from dolphin surveying and data entry to aquarium maintenance and collection.
Overall, my experience so far as an intern has been unbelievable and although during the week it can be quite tiring and demanding, there is plenty of downtime to relax and experience the true beauty of South Africa through a range of tours available on the weekends. And in terms of research, it is extremely rewarding to contribute and be involved in the ground breaking research associated with the Great White Shark. And hopefully through this research we can expand our knowledge of these magnificent creatures and thus, successfully develop conservation efforts to ensure they remain in our oceans forever.