My name is Michael Hession and I am from Galway, Ireland. I have always been passionate about the ocean and growing up beside it gave me a deep appreciation and connection to the sea. Having Finding Nemo as my favourite film when I was younger started my love for the ocean. I have vivid memories of spending a Summer going to my local aquarium every week when I was 10 to learn more and more about the wildlife scene in Galway Bay. Every time I went to a new city of country I would always ask if there was an aquarium or rescue centre around I could visit. From this almost obsession with marine life it made sense to me to pursue a career in marine biology.
I went on to go to the University of Galway to do a degree in Marine Science and I experienced new fields such as Aquatic Geochemistry, Deep Sea Ecology and Conservation, Developmental Biology and Palaeontology. I even had a hand in creating a short educational film about large Carboniferous Arthropods. All these fields did was further cement my interests in biology, but marine biology particularly. My final year thesis revolved around the marine environment and involved parasitic dinoflagellates infecting the European shore crab, a common crustacean species in Galway Bay, and investigating whether certain parameters had some connection to infection which was very interesting.
During a field trip with the University, I was recommended a programme by one of my classmates who had just gotten a job to apply for during the month of June in South Africa, and that is how I found the Marine Dynamics Academy Scientific Internship. I am very used to the intertidal and pelagic fauna of Galway Bay so the idea of participating in studying the wildlife in an area of the world where two oceans meet is very exciting.
The internship focuses on learning about some of South Africa’s megafauna, like Bronze Whaler Sharks, Humpback Whales, Southern Right Whales, Great White Sharks as well a few smaller species such as the African Penguin and the Pyjama Catshark just to name a few. I will also be learning the basics of the food web around the shallow kelp forest ecosystems surrounding the Gansbaai coastline which could show interesting parallels with kelp forest environments. The internship also helps to enhance field skills with snorkelling activities, catshark tagging and estuary monitoring. More academic writing based skills like RStudio and LaTeX which are used more for scientific writing will certainly be useful in future dissertations and even in my future masters prospects. I am hopeful that other skills like photography can be enhanced to help with wildlife photography which I am becoming increasingly invested in.
These skills will no doubt be invaluable in any future careers in marine science and conservation. I hope to be able to pass on information I’ve learned here to others and become an advocate and ambassador in the conservation of the ocean’s inhabitants and beauty