My name is Nomi Samuel, I’m an E-campus Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences Student at Oregon State University (OSU). As an E-campus, or online, student I have found it extremely difficult to gain the field experience that is required by employers. I came across the South African Shark Conservancy (SASC) Internship position through the Internship Coordinator at OSU. I applied for the position with no faith that I would land it… but here I am 2 months later finished with my first week as an Intern!
To provide you with some background, SASC was founded in 2007 in Hermanus, Western Cape. The conservancy is located within Walker Bay, an area with over 60 species of sharks, rays, skates, and chimaera. The conservancy is working on multiple projects to include estuary monitoring and species diversity and abundance of endemic cat sharks. These studies help the government and local communities understand what is taking place in their waters and the actions that should be followed for sustainable fishing and conservation.
As an Intern with SASC, it is my responsibility to aid in the studies and tasks taking place. There will be time in the lab where I will provide tours for the public outreach, time devoted to creating my own brand and building a professional portfolio, and time in the field fishing or working on studies.
For example, this week we deployed BRUVs (Baited Remote Underwater Videos) to measure species diversity and abundance and how that is affected by bait types. The rig set up allows a GoPro to capture footage of any animals that come to check out the bait canister attached to the other end. Although the visibility underwater is quite poor, we captured footage of a Cow shark trying her hardest to get to the bait.
When underwater visibility was too poor, we utilized hand-lining. Hand-lining is basically fishing without a rod. The other Interns and I spent six hours in Walker Bay trying to catch sharks. This was my first experience fishing so I did not expect to catch anything, but surprisingly I caught about 4 sharks (and gained the nickname Shark Whisperer). My proudest catch was a meter long female Pyjama shark (Poroderma africanum) that was carrying an unfertilized egg.
The Internship position at SASC will allow me to gain the hands on experience I have been looking for as an E-campus student while contributing to the conservation of endemic cat sharks and other elasmobranchs in one of the worlds most important biodiversity hotspots!
You can check out SASC at https://www.sharkacademy.co.za/