Hello! My name is Chris Daniell, Shark Intern and IS alum, and thank you for reading my blog post!
Being a student at the Island School was the most amazing experience of my life. I was here in the fall of 2010, and I spent the majority of 2011 trying to return. And here I am, living on Eleuthera, and living the dream.
The three months I spent as an Island School student were the best of my life. I loved every aspect of life here, from the more environmentally conscious nature of life, learning new things and meeting new people, and exploring the island of Eleuthera. However, my favorite part of The Island School experience was the connection to the ocean. My life has been dominated by a love for two things: science and the creatures that inhabit the world’s oceans. The Island School gave me my first hands-on experience with marine science, and gave me the opportunity to work with marine biologists. I was placed in the flats research program measuring the metabolic responses of bonefish under the various stressors forced upon them by global climate change. I loved every moment of it. This was the defining experience of my time as an Island School student. However, I have always harbored a fascination for sharks and their relatives. Naturally then, being a part of the sharks program at CEI is a dream come true.
I have spent the last month assisting in all aspects of the shark research program. My first experience was with the nurse shark mating aggregations project. Every summer, nurse sharks enter the creeks nearby to mate. During this window of opportunity, the sharks team set out to record as much as we could. Every day, a couple of us would bike to a nearby creek and record all sighting of nurse sharks, or their behavior. On a few occasions, we would bring the entire team out with a large net and to catch and tag a few of them. Another program I am involved with is the ongoing study of baby lemon sharks. For this we go out into the field and catch juvenile lemons and other creek animals in a large seine net to monitor the population of the sharks in the creeks as well as their prey. Once a week, a few people head out to the creeks by boat to catch the sharks that eat the baby lemon sharks themselves. The third project is the long line stress physiology project. The goal of this project is to record the behavior and blood chemistry of a shark that has been caught on a long line hook. Cameras record the shark when its hooked, and an accelerometer measures its movements. Blood samples are also taken to record stress levels.
The experience has been a truly amazing one, and I feel incredibly lucky to be able to be here. The days go by too quickly, just as they did in 2010. The work is hard, but I am following one of the most important lessons I learned as a student here:
“Do just that labour that marries your heart to your right hand” – Derek Walcott
There is always something to work on around the boathouse. I clean the bottoms of boats, assist with motor repair, drive boats for research teams, and perform various other tasks. After five weeks of working in the boathouse I have developed my skills in boat repair and scuba diving. This internship has definitely been a worthwhile learning experience!