Oceans Research Testimonials

The moment I made eye contact with my first great white, something inside me shifted. I was instilled with a drive to conserve these misunderstood creatures, and Oceans Research provided me with a foundation of unique skills in the field of shark conservation. After completing my internship with Oceans, I have since gone on to work towards my Master’s degree in marine conservation at the University of Miami. Because of my strong background in research and unique skillset, I am now in the UM Shark Research and Conservation Program where I am assisting in ground-breaking research in shark biology and conservation. I can’t thank Oceans enough for the opportunities it has led me to!

Chelsea BlackOceans Research Intern

During my time at Oceans, I learned a lot from the scientists in charge and the field specialists who happily shared their knowledge and experience. It was also an eye opener of how tough science can be, while being exciting and amazingly rewarding. It strengthened my motivation to further my education with a Master and then a PhD. Oceans Research offers a really great base for scientists to perform cutting-edge science and I was very lucky to benefit from it again when I came back to the campus as a researcher.

Lucielle ChapuisOceans Research Intern

The Oceans Research Intern Five Years Later:

My journey with Oceans Research began in late 2009. I was entering my senior year at The University of California; Santa Barbara; however, come September I would not be returning to campus just yet, as I was headed to South Africa to embark on an internship.

I knew I was heading across the world to intern at a marine biology lab that focused on great white shark research. What I did not know, was how much this internship was going to direct, influence and alter my future.

I touched down in Mossel Bay after a grueling 32 hour series of flights and was greeted by the staff at Oceans Research. As we drove to the intern house I could not help but gaze out the window. I was in disbelief that on the other side of the car windscreen was Africa! I can still picture how the landscapes, people and buildings looked for the first time.

After a 30 minute drive we arrived at the intern house. I had no idea what to expect when I entered the house. In retrospect, I imagine every new intern runs the same nervous gauntlet when they arrive.

Within five minutes every bit of nervous energy was gone. I was greeted by a score of fellow interns; all friendly and inviting. There was 14 interns in total, all from different corners of the globe: North America, South America, Asia, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Some had been there for many months others a couple of weeks. It made no difference there was no hierarchy, just a warm, welcoming, multinational environment- I was so happy to finally have arrived. I remember laying in bed that evening, looking up at the ceiling, grinning ear to ear and thinking over and over, “this is my home for the next 4 months”.

The staff wasted no time putting me into the drivers seat. Daily, I was out on the african ocean working hands on with great white sharks. I learned invaluable skills regarding boat safety and navigation. Additionally, I was trained on real field data collection with advanced equipment and rigid techniques- a skill not taught as in depth to biologists at university. We worked in the sun, the rain, day or night- proper science.

I learned that in order to better understand the great white shark one needed to understand the whole ecosystem. Oceans Research embraces this thought process as passes it on to all of its interns. In addition to great white sharks we focused our field studies on cape fur seal movement patterns, cetacean movement patters, water chemistry and other oceanographic properties.

We utilized Ocean Research’s Shark Lab where we conducted experiments on smaller species of sharks then looked to see if any trends we found in the lab could be applied to what we were seeing in the field.

Through repetition, these skills became muscle memory over the course of my internship. It wasn't until I returned home that I gained a full appreciation for all that Oceans Research had taught me.

It goes without saying that leaving Oceans Research was extremely hard. You bid farewell to friends that have become your family, you say goodbye to an African town that has become your home and you leave an atmosphere that has become your lifestyle. Some say, “when you leave Africa you leave a piece of your heart there for the rest of your life.”- I vouch for the validity of this statement.

With the internship five years in my rear view mirror, where has all that I learned and experienced at Oceans Research taken me? Where has it taken my fellow interns?

Socially, I have kept in touch with everyone that I went through the program with. I have dozens of couches to crash on in pretty much every country around the world plus I get the local experience when I go visit my fellow interns.

Professionally, my journey took me back to South Africa and Guadalupe Island, Mexico to continue my work with great white sharks. I have spent countless hours one on one with these animals- privileged to watch and learn every one of their nuances.

My time with Oceans Research has even surfaced in unexpected areas; for example, the main topic of several job interview has been employers asking me to share my time living in South Africa and working with sharks. I guarantee you're resume will stick out amongst others in the pile.

After several years abroad I move back to my home state of California where I have landed my dream job. I am the principle marine coast manager for my beachside town where I grew up. I work to develop and conserve my town’s marine habitat.

I use my skills daily to work side by side with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, private special interest groups as well as local university research labs.

I have created policy and procedures for public safety department’s response to shark sightings and attacks. I have drafted media briefs for news agencies looking to cover any shark stories in my area.

Most importantly I am in, on or under the ocean every day I work- my office is the Pacific Ocean.

What are my fellow interns doing? Many of them are working on their masters or PhD’s in a shark related field around the world. One has a new television series where he travels the world promoting shark conservation. Others are working similar jobs to mine back in their hometowns in Australia, Thailand and the United Kingdom. One girl is a lab technician in Scotland where she processes and analyzes shark genetics. Others are working with organizations that bring awareness to shark finning and long line by-catch. Our common thread- Oceans Research.

There are several things I can promise you about Oceans Research: you will work hard while you are there. You will also learn many skills that will prepare you to pursue avenues in the field of marine biology. You will make a network of likeminded friends who you will stay in contact with and cross paths professional and socially for years to come.

My story is not unique, I am a product of Oceans Research and persistence. For all those on the fence about joining the internship I encourage you to apply. This program will set you on a pathway in life. For those who have been accepted I applaud you and leave you with my final words - Enjoy the ride!

Jeremy FrimondOceans Research Intern

My name is Greta Hayden-Pless and I am currently a senior at Juniata College in the States studying Marine biology. I had heard about Oceans Research through my advisor who knows the creator of the program and we have sent other students there as well. I had spent three years dedicated to learning all I could about the marine environment and gaining as much experience as possible. However, the one month I spent at Oceans, doing the internship I learned more than I had in three years at my school. You are immersed into a hands-on learning that you don’t get t experience much else. You are constantly supported by the field specialist when you have questions and they share their knowledge with you and teach you new things, but they also expect you to be independent once you gain your stride.

Greta Hayden PlessOceans Research Intern

You may not know how to put it into exact words but you will remember it. It gives me a sense of pride, accomplishment and (dare I say) love as I ease it to the forefront of my memory.

If you are at all like I was, Oceans sounds too good to be true as you peruse the site for the first (or tenth) time. I can’t condense the discoveries I made during my two months in the journalism and photography internships into anything short of a novel. My long-story-made-short is like a lucid dream, deep yet immediate.

Jacob SchwebachOceans Research Intern

Wildlife Film-making Internship


Wildlife and travel photojournalism