The month of October started off with a lot of big changes, switching from 12 interns to 4 in the house. Things have quieted down a bit but there is still a lot of work being done. October 1st was a day of mixed emotions, with excitement for the new interns and some sadness for the ones that were leaving.
For the new interns orientation took place on Monday 4th October where they got to grips with the work that is expected of them at Oceans as well as familiarizing themselves with Mossel Bay.
The working week started with the upsetting news of a beached hump back whale at the Kleinbrak river mouth. However, the invaluable data that can be collected from these beachings means that samples must be taken and measurements recorded in order to determine reasons behind the stranding. The hump back whale was in excess of 15 meters in length and looked to have been dead for 2-3 days by the time the Oceans team examined it. The whale has subsequently been disposed of by the authorities.
During the week there has been a distinct lack of white sharks sighted within Mossel Bay. Chum trips went ahead as normal, however not one white shark has been spotted by the Oceans team. A potential reason is the weather which Mossel Bay has been experiencing over the past week. The sea conditions have been less than ideal, with large swells coming in from the open ocean. Whether this means the sharks have moved to deeper water in order to avoid these conditions will have to be looked into in the coming weeks.
Whilst there was a distinct lack of white sharks, to everyone’s surprise here at Oceans the starry smooth-hound, which is exhibited in the Shark Lab, gave birth to two pups. This was exciting times for everyone who is involved with Oceans Research, especially Adam Johnstone who is the lead scientist at the Shark Lab. The two pups were closely monitored for the first week of their lives and were eventually released into the bay on Friday 8th October……..Very cool!
This week also saw a visitor to Mossel Bay. Kyle McHugh came down from Pretoria university in order to expand his ideas for potential PhD projects. Kyle worked closely with Enrico Gennari and made some good progress in solidifying his project area. Kyle is planning on studying the effects of catch and release on sharks’ stress levels.
Anticipation is high for the coming weeks with plans for the tracking of white sharks to commence. Everyone at Oceans Research is looking forward to this, as it gives a much greater understanding into the movements and hunting tendencies of the white sharks here in Mossel Bay.
Michael Reynolds – Mossel Bay Oceans Research intern