Shark and Ray Research Internship
Author: Alisa Iketani
C. Tate Holbrook, Ph.D.
Community Partner: Coastal Marine Education and Research Academy
Most people only know about sharks based on what they see on Discovery Channel or the news. People have an unsubstantiated fear of sharks or swimming in the ocean. I want people to learn that sharks are endangered and need our help to save their ocean environment. This summer I had the special privilege to work with Coastal Marine Education and Research Academy (C.M.E.R.A.) located in Clearwater, FL. Their mission is “to provide hands on field research opportunities to college students or anyone interested in the natural sciences while conducting research to further understanding of shark and ray ecology.” My internship sponsor was Moriah Moore, the co-founder of C.M.E.R.A. She has helped me become a better person and scientist. During my internship I learned how to identify local species of sharks, rays and other animals. I was taught how to tag and take DNA samples. Throughout the summer we began each day with a lecture focused on various topics including biology, conservation and marine pollution. We rotated using three different boats up to 8 hours each day. All animals caught were sexed, measured, tagged and released. My favorite experience was when I was holding a mother Atlantic Stingray and noticed she was giving birth, so I quickly assisted in the birth of two healthy baby rays. The experience I gained while working with C.M.E.R.A. impacted my personal growth and clarified my career path.