Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Shark Chronicles 064 - A brand new year!

The first two weeks of February have been a week of arrivals of departures of personnel. February 1st brought the arrival of four new interns. The interns spent their first day on the Shark Warrior – a tourism cage diving vessel. We collect data on this boat once a week. On this day, 7 sharks amazed the tourists and Ocean Research staff for hours with their presence. One by one the interns entered the cage to observe the sharks underwater, while the other two interns continued to collect data. It is an experience that cannot properly be described in words but must be experienced.

All the sharks are amazing and each is different. The most interesting things I saw this week, other than the sharks feeding from underwater, was the shark breaching out of the water and playing with a banana peel floating at the surface of the water. Shortly after the arrival of interns, the two directors, Ryan and Enrico, departed for the International white shark symposium in Hawaii. After they present some talks and posters on our research and soaking up the Hawaiian sun they will be back later in the month. Just another tough task for shark biologists. All joking aside, these international conferences are an important way to communicate cutting edge research to other experts from around the world. So we are very happy Oceans Research is participating, as knowledge has great utility if it is widely known and used.

On days not on the boat, we are sitting on the cliffs and hills of Mossel Bay looking for marine mammals. Given that whale season is over, we expect to see mainly bottlenose, humpback, and common dolphins. Yet the reason you go out to monitor, is you never know what you will get. Rodney and Edith saw two humpback whales as they survey the bay from the Mossel Bay lighthouse. The whales were a mother and a calf that were slowly travelling around the bay, which provided lots of interesting tracking data. On the day, I participated we saw 40 bottlenose dolphins and all 6 of the resident humpback dolphins of Mossel Bay.

So it has been a whirlwind first week for everyone and it leaves you just wanting to get back out there. The adventure begins again tomorrow morning on the research vessel Cheetah to pursue our research on the marine mammals, seals, and sharks of Mossel Bay.

David Delaney, Ph.D. – Mossel Bay OCEANS Research intern

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