As a 3-monther, SAMPLA has not only become my home, it has become a way of life.
Aside from the routine tasks and daily duties, more so than learning the skills required to run a boat or conduct scientific research, SAMPLA has helped me to realign my interests and reminded me why I decided to pursue marine biology in the first place.
At a previous intern's farewell braai, Ryan once said something to the tune of "the one thing I hope all of the interns can take away from this experience is to find what truly inspires them in life, whether that be sharks, oceans, or something completely different." Well Ryan, I think you all have succeeded more than you know in helping all of us further realize and experience our personal goals and aspirations. It has been an honour to work with everyone here at SAMPLA, the directors, the office staff, and of course the other interns who have all encouraged me to pursue this crazy dream I have of saving the world, no matter how daunting or impossible it may seem.
It has been such a welcome change to be surrounded by people equally as passionate and crazy about the ocean and conservation as I am, comforting to know that there are people who care enough to make a difference. As a self-proclaimed science dork, its always fun to find others who get as excited about things most people would cringe at. Who else would root for the adorable, innocent baby seal to be ripped apart by a shark if not a SAMPLA intern? Who else could rework the lyrics to classics by the likes of Bob Marley and the Police to sing about chumming if not a SAMPLA intern? Who else can say they wrestled a Great White shark and lived to tell the tale if not a SAMPLA intern? At the risk of sounding overly sentimental, I can honestly say this is one of those experiences that will stay with me forever.
In short, I hope to express my sincere appreciation and say thank you for making this experience to everyone I have met over the course of my 3 months here. As amazing as it is to see Great White sharks on a daily basis, SAMPLA truly is a product of its members. I look forward to working with you all in the future! And watch out for me on National Geographic/Discovery Channel, I have big aspirations…