Author Jamie Halkyard

My name is Jamie and I am a 24 year old who was born and raised in New Zealand. Growing up, I was always running around exploring rockpools and the coastlines when I could. I was lucky enough that my love of the oceans was nurtured through various school camps and field trips exploring the Ohope rockpools and sampled the intertidal zone at Goat Island marine reserve. My love of marine life and desire to learn more led me to study at the University of Auckland where I obtained a Bachelor of Science majoring in biological science and specialising in marine science. Towards the end of my degree, however, I realised that I wanted to gain more knowledge and practical experience with a variety of shark species before heading into post-graduate level study. I had also never ventured out of New Zealand so decided it was time to travel! My love of sharks and drive to help with their conservation has led me to travel while gaining valuable experience through research internships. From South Africa, working with white sharks, sevengills and benthic catsharks to the Bahamas where I’m currently working with lemon sharks, tiger sharks, nurse sharks and reef sharks. I’ve decided to share my travel experiences while following my dream of getting close to and learning about as many shark species as possible all around the world!

One of our many white shark chum trips resulted in us witnessing an incredible natural predation in close proximity of the research boat. One of the photography interns had come along with us to get some high quality shots with his camera while us interns carried out our usual chumming trip duties – writing down the data collected by the field specialists, chumming with sardines, and taking dorsal fin shots with the camera. We saw plenty of very active sharks some of which were trying their best to get the tuna head bait. A very memorable moment during the trip…

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For our third Saturday off, a group of us decided to explore Oudtshoorn – a place well known for its ostrich farms and Cango caves. We travelled again with Reyne through R&R tours and he told us the scenery was going to be very different compared with our last trip and we weren’t disappointed. The drive offered beautiful views of rolling hills, lots of greenery and in some places it was quite dry with lots of ostriches in fields filled with stunning purple flowers and cute stick tee-pee looking huts for them to shelter in. On the way we also…

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About half way through September and our month-long internship, we arrived back from an amazing morning chum trip where we saw nine Great whites – two of which were very active and jumping out of the water in attempts to get the bait. One of the active sharks was between 3.5-3.75m which was incredible to witness.  We had a delicious lunch made by the staff at the house with my absolute favourite – crispy chicken burgers and chips (anyone who has interned with Oceans Research will know what I mean!). After lunch we had exciting plans for the afternoon. An…

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Aside from cleaning tanks, feeding mussels out to the fish and carrying out regular water changes we were also able to help with two exciting projects during our internship – inducing tonic immobility in benthic sharks and a maze experiment to assess the cognitive abilities of benthic sharks. The first of the two projects that we were able to gain experience with was inducing tonic in a leopard catshark named “Zimzi”. We first received an informative introduction to the phenomenon of tonic immobility by the aquarium manager Alan, who told us that it is thought to be related to reproduction…

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For our second weekend off, we decided to visit the Farmer’s market in Sedgefield and also have some adventures in Plettenberg Bay getting up close and personal with animals of the terrestrial kind. On the Saturday, the journalism intern Monique, Megan and I caught a taxi from Mossel Bay to Sedgefield which is about a one hour drive so that we could experience the Farmer’s market we had all heard so much about. Once we arrived at the market we saw a minstrel band singing lively jazz songs – a bit more upbeat with a tambourine, accordion and guitars -…

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During our first week as Oceans Research interns, Megan and I headed to the aquarium with second-month intern Claudia, for our first shift. Our morning had an exciting start in which we were able to witness the dissection of a common smooth-hound shark. Ralph, the PhD student who had been practicing the suturing process in preparation for his study now had the opportunity to practice on a real shark that had sadly stranded earlier that year at the Klein Brak river. Apart from being able to practice suturing on the shark, another reason for the dissection was to learn more…

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For our second boat trip, we were scheduled for a BRUV (baited remote underwater video) and seafishing trip – something I was really excited for. We started the morning on the boat getting everything prepared for a smooth BRUV drop at a reef site to collect data for Ralph’s catshark project. We helped prepare the bait canisters with sardines and recorded environmental variables at the site then set out to do some seafishing while we waited to get the footage needed. It was my first time trying seafishing and the first site had lots of rays that kept taking my…

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Our first day scheduled on the land dolphin study was a huge contrast to our chum trip. Since the Oceans Research internship encompasses a variety of marine studies, we had the chance to help out with assisting with a project on dolphins and whales and their use of the surrounding waters of Mossel Bay. The study site was in front of the lighthouse at the Point. It was a full day (9am-4pm) and we used binoculars to spot dolphins (bottlenose and humpback) and whales (Southern right and humpbacks). Once spotted, we assisted with tracking them and recording data as the…

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For my first weekend off during the internship, one of the other interns – Claudia and I decided we wanted to get up close and personal with the Great Whites and see them from a different view – underwater! We were booked in for the Saturday morning trip with White Shark Africa and had to be at the office by 8.15am where we enjoyed a buffet breakfast to fill us up before heading out on the boat. We watched the promo and research video showed in their office and also received a safety briefing where we learnt about the boat,…

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On our first day of our Oceans Research internship, the other new intern for the month of September 2015 and I had a really exciting day that included meeting the boats and also a trip to the local vet clinic to learn about suturing. We started off the morning with lectures from two of the field specialists – one from Olivia on data collection and entry, and another from Justin on sea fishing, boat skills and safety. Since we had our harbour passes sorted, we were able to gain entry into the dock and saw the boats that are used…

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