As an intern with Oceans Research in Mossel Bay, South Africa, Maria Iuliano assisted with a number of research projects, including a study of White Sharks. Maria collected and organized data identifying individual sharks for a population study.
How did you find your internship?
I found my internship through an extensive Google search. I knew I wanted to work abroad in the field of marine science, specifically studying sharks, so narrowing my search was straightforward.
Describe the work you did in your internship.
In my internship, I assisted with numerous PhD projects but the main project was a population study on White Sharks in the area of Mossel Bay. I baited, tagged, photographed, and collected data on each individual we encountered. I then organized this data into a database comparing sharks for overlap until each shark could be classified as a new shark or combined with an existing profile.
What was the most rewarding aspect of your Connecting Experience?
I was able to spend time in close contact with extensive marine life in their natural environment. It was an incredible experience to be able to work so hands on with White Sharks considering how rare an opportunity that is. Knowing that I was contributing to a better understanding of a data deficient species was enriching. I was able to not only assist in the procedures but also understand the rationale for these research activities.
In what ways has this Connecting Experience shaped your plans for the future?
This experience has grown my interest in working with large marine mammals, cetaceans, and sharks. Not only has it helped shape my interest in marine life but it has also increased my commitment to understanding the environmental impact we have on the ocean ecosystem. It has provided a strong foundation that I am certain I will use in my future field work.