This new week started quite slowly for SAMPLA interns with a day-off in order to rest from the previous weekend spent at sea with a filmmaking crew. Tuesday was dedicated to chumming and monitoring Great White Sharks in Mossel Bay.
In the afternoon SAMPLA directors were asked to help the Marine Coastal Management ‘Africana’ research vessel with their maintenance operations. Their task: diving in murky, cold and shark-infested waters to check the state of the radar located at the bow of the boat. Fortunately, the mission was successful.
On Friday, the interns went chumming in order to gather more data on the Great White Shark individual database and to locate the three recently tagged sharks. The latter attempt was unsuccessful, and more tracking shall be done soon. On Friday evening, Ryan gave a talk about Scientific Writing and Publication, a very challenging and important task for young researchers. The night ended up at Ocean Basket, a local seafood restaurant, with our special guest Professor Martin Bester from the University of Pretoria.
Having spent a month at SAMPLA already, I now have a more precise idea of the goals, ideas and ambitions of the South African Marine Predator Lab. More than just conducting research on Great White Sharks, SAMPLA is a multi-disciplinary and multi-species population monitoring programme run by charismatic and very capable scientists. Ranging from local aquarium renovation to Cape Fur Seal surveys, dolphin populations monitoring, sea turtle rescue and Great White Shark research, the diverse SAMPLA activities all strive to explore, discover, understand and conserve marine life. In addition, SAMPLA plays a very important role in raising public awareness via presentations in local schools, scientific publications, worldwide TV interviews and documentaries, as well as their new online and free magazine: Beyond Blue. As a conclusion, to work in such an environment and with such people was a dream to me, and I am really glad that dream is now realized. No matter the bad weather or physical fatigue, working at SAMPLA is, I am sure, a real pleasure for all of us interns.
As director Stephen Swanson would say: “Tomorrow is a brand new day”, and I am sure the best is yet to come at SAMPLA.