+ A great learning experience
I wanted to share with readers the amazing opportunity I was given during the 2011-2012 school year. I was a part of a select few high school students who got to intern at Mote Marine. The application process was long and hard, but the experience was well worth it.
The internship was broken down in two parts — one part educational and the other part volunteer. During the educational part, all 15 interns met at the Mote Education Research Center (MERC) every other Wednesday for meetings. During these meetings we would discuss upcoming project ideas and learn about the work it takes to be a marine biologist.
One of the big projects we did during the internship was take care of and raise a saltwater tank. We split into three groups with different habitats: mangrove, benthic (sea floor) and sea grass. We went in the water across from Mote and caught our own animals. After catching them, we let them explore their temporary homes and discussed more tank guidelines, such as testing for appropriate temperature and pH levels.
In the short two months our five-person group had to take care of our tank, we were worn out. We couldn’t imagine taking care of one as large as the shark tank! This really opened our eyes to the amount of work aquarists do and allowed for a new appreciation of them.
During the volunteer part of the internship, we were required to work a number of shifts, as well as overnights consisting of anything from labeling gear to guiding kayak trips. An overnight is when a group of children — usually Girl/Boy Scouts or a school class — get to spend the night in the aquarium. The kids showed such excitement and interest while learning all about the sea animals. They asked terrific questions and looked up to the interns. It was great because at night the animals don’t have the same behaviors, which made it a whole new experience.
Overall the internship taught me that hard work and dedication can take you far. Mote has given me so much, both learning-wise and personally. I am now pursuing my passion for sharks by studying research on them. Thank you, Mote.
Lakewood Ranch High School student, Bradenton