I can’t tell you the exact moment I fell in love with sharks…I think it just happened. I think it happened in the same kind of way we all fall in love with things—there’s just that spark. Well, over time, that spark turned into a flame, and that flame turned into a fire, and well, that fire is wholly metaphoric of my colossal love of sharks. Through this journey, I discovered the Bimini Shark Lab. For 12 years I fostered that spark in hopes of one day becoming a part of their team.
Well, here we are—12 years later and I am writing this blog from the lab of the Bimini Biological Field Station as an intern. My dream came true. This opportunity was graciously awarded to me by the lab in the form of the Doc Gruber Memorial Scholarship, in memory of the station’s illustrious founder, Dr. Samuel H. Gruber. I have immense gratitude for the entire lab for selecting me to join on as part of their team and be an active part in their contribution to shark research, education, and conservation. The scholarship provided me with an opportunity of a lifetime that many people, just like me, dream of.
During my 2-month stay, I have learned so many things about sharks and gotten so much hands-on experience with so many new-to-me elasmobranch species, which is what you come here to do, right? But what I feel is so much more amazing, is that I have learned so much more about life. There are so many skills here that I don’t know if I would have learned anywhere else. This internship is not a vacation, which most people find hard to believe when you’re staying in one of the most serene and beautiful places on Earth—it’s so much more than that. Don’t get me wrong, anytime we caught a shark, I was giddier than a kid in a candy shop, but I also learned the practical skills of how to drive a boat, spearfish, use a weedwhacker, cut down a tree, cook for groups of 30, and help keep up the maintenance of a remote field station. Not only did I get my hands dirty in the day-to-day grind, I worked to improve my social skills of understanding and adapting from my mistakes, looking for ways to help with tasks, adjusting to long days and new schedules, and being okay with not having the access to everyday luxuries that most of us are so accustomed to.
So, after reading this, I know you’re wondering, “Well, did you have fun?”, and truthfully the answer is…ABSOLUTELY! The friends and connections I have made here I know will last a lifetime, as will the memories. My time with the lab exceeded my expectations—it brought on challenges and provided me with some of the best oceanic experiences of my life. If you’re thinking about applying to be an intern, I am here to tell you that you absolutely should. This internship was life-changing, and I will never forget about my time with the Bimini Shark Lab.