It was another eventful week for the SAMPLA team. With the majority of the interns back in action after a bout of illnesses, attempts were once again made to relocate our runaway shark, now renamed Xena.
Unfortunately, tracking was not feasible with the inconsistent weather conditions and Xena remaining somewhat elusive. Instead, the team directed their efforts to 24-hour seal surveys, of which two were successfully completed. At the end of the nocturnal shifts, the seal decoy was deployed and towed behind the boat in hopes of witnessing a predation attempt. Both surveys ended on a good note, with a decapitated seal decoy and several magnificent shark breaches caught on video. Witnessing a shark breach first hand is truly an incredible experience.
Amidst the busy work schedules, plans were underway for the fundraising event aimed at raising money to improve the Mossel Bay Shark and Ray Aquarium. “Shark Night” was the brainchild of SAMPLA intern Tricia Coyne who was participant in prior efforts to rescue the Aquarium, only to have to witness it all get washed away in the storm a month ago. Through the preparation process, a host of varying intern skills were put to good use. Interns assisted in soliciting prize donations for a lucky draw, marketing the event, selling tickets as well as decorating the venue.
Shark Night was held on the 26th of September at BigBlu bar, with half-hourly lucky draws and attractive prizes as the key itinerary. It was a rollercoaster night; tickets were sold, prizes were won, tears were shed, ‘fishbowls’ were drunk and also a plastic goldfish swallowed.
Through the fundraiser and private donations, the SAMPLA team were able to raise more than half of the targeted goal for the purchase of new aquarium equipment. This figure is expected to increase through the continual sale of shark/dorsal fin plaques bearing donor names, which would be permanently featured on a wall in the new aquarium
Of course, credit must be given to ex-SAMPLA intern Adam Johnstone whose significant contributions to the aquarium during his stay, was the inspiration behind the fundraiser.