Throughout my career as a biologist and educator, I often hear members of the public confess that at some point in their lives, they had wanted to be marine biologists but for whatever reason, they chose other, more sensible, career paths. This never surprises me because I obviously understand the appeal of being a sunburned biologist, swimming all day with sharks while at the same time, I am living the reality of sitting at my desk, writing grants and crunching data. Most of the people I meet have a genuine fascination with the ocean and sharks, in particular, but they are adults. Not that being an adult is all that bad but it is restrictive when looking for ways to learn more about your passions and experience what may have been your dream job. Most volunteer opportunities or internships in the shark category are geared towards high school or college kids who might be considering pursuing biology majors. The programs typically require a lengthy time commitment, from several weeks to several months. This is understandable as the work requires a training period and a fast turnover in volunteers could affect the research projects and results. However, that eliminates participation by anyone who has a job with a normal vacation policy or other responsibilities. These labs and organizations are not usually open to random members of the public for anything more than a quick tour. Again, totally understandable as the staff is already very busy working on important projects. Although it is very important to continue to offer these opportunities to budding biologists, I think adults are also an important audience to consider; the soccer mom that is passionate about sharks and science, the lawyer who loves to scuba dive and supports conservation, the nurse who makes her friends watch every nature documentary. These adults are influential members of the community, shaping policies with their votes, teaching kids what to value, making consumer choices. Where can these people go to experience the day and life of a marine biologist?
This is why ASC has developed the Research Experience program. We are partnering with field stations and labs that are working on field research and conservation initiatives to offer opportunities for the public to work alongside them. These trips are open to anyone* with an interest in sharks, science, and conservation. We hope this unique opportunity will instill in the participants an appreciation for the science and fuel their passion for protecting our marine environment.
Our first trip is set for September 2015 to the Bimini Biological Field Station where we will participate in the daily research activities of the famous Shark Lab such as studying juvenile lemon sharks, learning safe shark handling practices, collecting data and interacting with Caribbean reef and nurse sharks. Informal lectures are offered about the Lab’s research and ASC’s conservation work.
Bimini Research Experience Details
Date: September 2 – 6th 2015
Cost: $1595**, includes roundtrip charter flights from Miami, all related activities, accommodation and 3 meals per day
Stay tuned for more trips in 2016!
* Participants under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
**The Shark Lab is a registered non-profit 501(c)3 organization so the cost is tax deductible.
For trip enquiries, please email: Hannah@AmericanSharkConservancy.org