Shark Chronicles 045 – How a research project starts

Shark Chronicles 045 – How a research project starts

Posted by Dylan Irion on March 19, 2009

With the new year comes new projects and goals for the Oceans team.

Now a few months into 2009, we are beginning to decipher the patterns of Mossel Bay’s visiting population of Bottle Nose Dolphins. Each day a team of interns rotates through shifts at the St. Blaize Lighthouse, observing the water for any passing dolphin pods. Early attempts at finding the dolphins proved unsuccessful as we could only spend a limited time at the lighthouse, between sharking and our other duties as interns. Now that our numbers are larger, we have redoubled our efforts at the lighthouse and are beginning to see results. Movement patterns are becoming clear, and more than once we have even been fortunate enough to get a boat in the water in time to find the dolphins for photo identification. As an intern, it is an especially enlightening experience to participate in building a research project from the ground up. Without collecting this fundamental data, larger and more complex studies would not be possible. We are paving the way for future interns and scientists to discover more about the fascinating network of life that live in, and pass through the beautiful Mossel Bay.

On the subject of redoubled efforts, this past weekend was also spent spreading the word about The Shark Lab aquarium, tucked away beneath the Big Blue Tapas bar and restaurant. The interns hit the streets armed with pamphlets and a newly discovered ability to network. Our hard work paid off, bringing in a swarm of visitors to see the native aquatic life of Mossel Bay that is currently rotating through the aquarium. With a three month holding policy, the Shark Lab residents are always changing. This ensures that no animal will spend their entire life in captivity, and means that there is always something new for visitors to see. Some new additions include a rare Black Musselcracker (Cymatoceps nasutus) and a very graceful Smooth-Hound shark (Mustelus mustelus). Our hope is to begin using the aquarium to research the possibility of a breeding program for threatened species, and look into the much debated subject of feeding and conditioning in sharks. Be sure and check us out!

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