As exciting as it is to wake up every morning to the familiar smell of frozen fish, hurl blood and fish guts by the bucket load on a nearly daily basis, and occasionally be rewarded by a lucky glimpse of a out-of-water breaching white shark or attempted seal predation, It is the passion and dedication of the team of SAMPLA directors, that is a joy to watch and an honour to work alongside with.
Whether it is sitting on the windy rooftop of the Diaz hotel on seal survey watch, rescuing stranded seal pups, tracking our hearts out to stay close on the tail-end of a shark, moving monster amounts of sardines or embarking on operation ‘search and locate sharks’ with a determined director (that refused to take zero sharks for an answer!), every event is like a journey to higher education; As previously mentioned, it is the diversity and unpredictability that gives this brand of research its appeal. This is the kind of experience that transforms the SAMPLA crew into more than just a workgroup. As you stand on deck and get tossed about by the mighty ocean swells and have the unique opportunity of witnessing National Geographic-worthy moments, the crew is transformed into a family away from family.
Having participated in several internships prior to this one, I can safely say this is and will likely remain one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had. Never have I seen a more passionate and unique blend of directors who are so willing to share their knowledge and expertise, and so keen to inspire others. My time at SAMPLA has only helped to reaffirm my passion for these amazing predators and inspired me to delve deeper into the realms of shark conservation.
As 2008 draws to a close and we bid farewell to a hugely successful first year of operations, we welcome the dawn of a new and improved and more aptly termed OCEANS Research programme. I couldn’t think of a more fantastic way to spend the last 3-ish months of my year. It has been a great honour to work with the whole SAMPLA team and all the interns. And an even greater pleasure to be part of such a dynamic setup and see it grow in strength and scope through my time in Mossel Bay. I wish everyone at ‘SAMPLA’ a shaarky year ahead and hope to have the opportunity to work with you in the future.
Watch out, shark research world, here we come!