My work with Marine Dynamics

The Western Cape of southern Africa is filled with a multitude of species unique to the area, is the reason why I joined the internship presented by Marine Dynamics Academy.

Written by Sam Cottier, Jul 11 2023

My work with Marine Dynamics

My work with Marine Dynamics

The abundant biodiversity of the coastal region travelling alongside the Western Cape of southern Africa, filled with a multitude of species unique to the area, is the reason why I joined the internship presented by Marine Dynamics Academy, a company renowned for the study and protection of marine life, particularly focusing on the conservation of sharks, such as the great white shark.

The programme, led by marine biologist Ralph Watson, introduced me to a wide range of scientific methodologies, from data collection and analysis, such as working with BRUV (Baited Remote Underwater Video) data, to more physical procedures such as species identification and tagging.

One of the highlights of my internship was working within the two commercial vessels, used for cage diving and marine wildlife tours, Slashfin, and Dream Catcher; alongside marine guides and biologists, assisting in gathering vital data, whether it was identifying specific great white shark individuals based on specific characteristics, such as marks on a dorsal fin, or recording the playful behaviour of a breaching Humpback whale. Operating on the boats also gave me valuable experience in working closely alongside the public, and as part of the crew, learning useful boating procedures to ensure minimal impact and maximum safety.

Estuary monitoring was another task I was introduced to, done on a weekly basis, to ensure constant and reliable data collection. Walking and kayaking alongside the Uilenkraal estuary allowed me to expand my knowledge on bird identification in the local area, as well as introducing me to the usage of YSI sampling products used to record certain properties of the water, such as salinity and dissolved oxygen level.

During my time with Marine Dynamics Academy, I was lucky enough to assist in the necropsy of a 3.5m Great White shark, that had recently been unfortunately predated by an Orca in Mossel Bay. This predation, although sad, allowed a unique experience in gathering morphometric and biological data, regarding the shark’s characteristics, such as sex, length of each of the shark’s components, and stomach contents, before then taking various samples from the shark.

Dart tagging, the procedure of placing small tags on species of a certain size around the South African coastline, using ORI tags, was another method of data collection introduced to me during the internship. Benthic sharks, such as the dark shyshark, were the prime targets in the area for us to tag, through catch and release means of either snorkelling in a kelp forest, and gathering species that were attracted by a bait canister, or saltwater fishing. I was taught specific techniques to ensure the catsharks’ comfort and safety, during catchment and time out of water, as well as ORI tag placement, and the optimal release method.

Within the internship, I also attended various lectures and workshops, ranging from understanding reproducible research programmes, such as R, LaTeX, and Sweave to photography lessons, giving me a practical understanding of camera setups, allowing me to shoot a multitude of wildlife, a skill I will carry with me now throughout my career.

Overall, the internship presented to me by Marine Dynamics Academy has assured me that I want to continue through a career within the zoological field, especially towards the marine biology side. The duties, tasks and training undertaken allowed me to work alongside a dedicated team of experts, gain hands-on experience, and contribute to the preservation of marine ecosystems.



Written by

Sam Cottier Student, Scientific Internship

Sam is a scientific intern at Marine Dynamics Academy from Scotland, studying for a degree in Biological Sciences

Sam's profile
Sam Cottier

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