Hear from our interns
Each intern has their own story to tell about how they contributed to the work at Sharklab-Malta and what they gained from their time here. Read about these experiences below.
Kennedy Tanner - MSc Environmental Governance and Adaptation to Climate Change at University of Tartu, Estonia
July 2022 - September 2022
July 2022 - January 2023
I am an Italian Marine Biologist and young diving instructor!!! Deeply passionate about the sea and all that surrounds it I moved in July 2022 to Malta to join the fantastic family of Sharklab 🦈
I spent 6 wonderful months full of snorkel and dive monitoring in search of sting rays and skates, nights full of smiles at the fish market to save dozens of shark eggs from certain death and so many days dedicated to public awareness and education about the world of sharks between schools and museums!
It was a very educational experience that I would repeat a thousand more times, especially for the wonderful family that welcomed me!
Sarah Schembri - Bsc Biology and Chemistry at University of Malta
March 2022 - May 2022
I found out about SharkLab Malta in summer 2010 just before I started my final year as a BSc Biology and Chemistry student at the University of Malta. I joined the NGO because I felt that the practical experience through SharkLab would complement the theory that I was learning at university.
While a member of SharkLab I went on several survey dives where I was lucky to observe many marine animals, amongst which, several species of skates and rays. Another frequent activity that I did with SharkLab was going to the beach looking for mermaid’s purses. I learned how to identify elasmobranch species encountered on dives and from egg cases that we found on the beach. These are the sort of “hands-on” experiences that are not provided in formal education and, more importantly, they were fun!
During the field work for my PhD onboard a ship in the Canadian Arctic, I encountered a mermaid’s purse in one of the trawl samples. Thanks to my time in SharkLab I was able to identify it as an egg case of the Arctic skate. It was the cause of many visits to our onboard lab, both from the scientists and crew, as news spread through the ship that there was an interesting thing worth looking at in the fish lab. This demonstrates my favourite thing that I learned from SharkLab; that people are very interested in sharks and marine life and being part of SharkLab provides opportunities for communicating interesting science.
March 2022 - May 2022
I interned with Sharklab-Malta for just three months. It was a fantastic experience, during my time in Malta I learnt so much and gained so many new skills.
Before starting the internship, I had never visited a fish market or carried out taxidermy. The fish market experience was very interesting, especially the range of species being caught. During my time at Sharklab-Malta there were several landings of Blue sharks and Blunt nosed six gill sharks. Although it was sad to see them in the market, it was fascinating to be able to study the species in person and to see what was being bycaught at different times of the month.
The taxidermy work was very exciting, I was able to completely dissect a Longnose spurdog, and to clean and preserve its jaw.
Snorkelling was a key part of the internship, every day we were in the water when the weather conditions allowed. This was my favourite part, and I was able to see some amazing species; stingrays, flying gurnards and even a seahorse!
The main project I was involved with was visiting fish shops across the island with another intern, we encouraged the fish shops to look for shark and skate eggs. Which we collected, giving them to the Malta National Aquarium, to be raised before we released them back into the Mediterranean. I was able to see the release of a Nursehound (Scyliorhinus stellaris) just before my return to the UK, which was an amazing experience.
Another aspect of the internship was educating the public, this was a great opportunity to spread awareness of marine conservation issues. Being able to talk to school children about sharks was fun because they were so enthusiastic and had some amazing questions, mostly about Megalodons! All the experience I gained was invaluable, providing me with hands-on skills and knowledge which built on my university degree. I would recommend this internship to anyone who has a passion for sharks, skates and rays, and loves to snorkel.
Thank you Sharklab, I will never forget my time in Malta.
Christian Caruso - Ocean Science and Marine Conservation student at Plymouth University, UK
September 2021 - August 2022
Hi! I’m Christian, I live in Sicily, the island just above Malta. I’m studying BSc Ocean Science and Marine Conservation at Plymouth University, and being able to collaborate with this NGO and study the marine environment of the Mediterranean was such a big opportunity.
I have been part of Sharklab-Malta for a period of one year. If I have to be honest, I was not considering to gain knowledge on elasmobranchs, but these species turned out to be AMAZING! That is why I’m devoting my final dissertation to the critically endangered bull rays, and their occurrence around the Maltese Island in relation to environmental factors. The rays are monitored as part of the Fly With Bull Rays project, which include both in-water data collection but also further image/database processing. It’s fun, guaranteed.
During my period at Sharklab-Malta, I did not just participate in snorkel surveys taking pictures of the rays, skates and other marine creatures, but I have also assisted other interns with their projects. Whatever project might come up during your time on the island, take part in it!
I totally enjoyed the dissection sessions, up to a point that I spent 2 months on a single exhibition piece. It was the tail of a thresher shark. You will get plenty of guidelines, but then it’s up to you to further investigate and apply the knowledge acquired.
Not to forget, the various awareness talks/events carried out in schools and at the Malta National Aquarium. These gave me confidence in public speaking, eventually achieving good communication skills and adapting the contents to different age groups.
Fancy an early morning visit to the fish market? Then join Sharklab-Malta, and you will have an interesting experience, which sometimes could be sad, but eventually will make you understand the value of the activity.
I cannot summarise all the good moments in a bio, so if this has not sparked your interest already, then feel free to contact me through social media :)
Oh, yes. I almost forgot to mention how beautiful Bull rays are! If you ever have the opportunity to spot one, take your time, swim near it and appreciate the moment. Feel the connection with the sea and its inhabitants, and be part of it. Malta is waiting for you.
I have quite a unique academic background. While most other Sharklab interns are marine biology, oceanography or zoology students, I completed a BA in psychology then realized my true passion lies in the conservation of the environment.
I had only been studying a (relatively) scientific field for 1 year when I sent my application into Sharklab asking them to help with my Masters thesis. I figured this would be my last opportunity to get some hands-on scientific experience before heading out into the world as an Environmental Manager. I had an ambitious idea for my thesis - investigating microplastics in sharks- but had no species in mind, no concrete way to source specimens and had really no idea what I was doing.
Pam and Dave taught me about Elasmobranch anatomy and how to properly dissect a shark, the more senior Interns taught me how to conduct snorkel surveys and how to take photos underwater for species identification, I learned how to Scuba Dive and earned my PADI Advanced Open Water Diver Certification.
My summer at Sharklab helped me cultivate a deeper knowledge of the marine environment and allowed me to create connections with The University of Malta and the Fisheries Department of Aquaculture both of whom are helping me complete my thesis research.
I now have successfully dissected over 70 sharks (Squalus Blainville) and am eager to write a paper on my findings. All of this has been possible because of my Internship in Malta.
Not too shabby for a Psych major!
Thanks Sharklab :)
Lena Collet - Agronomy engineering student in Dijon, France
March 2021 - August 2021
I am from Limoges, in France. I did a five-month internship at Sharklab-Malta. This internship allowed me to discover Maltese waters, to learn a lot about sharks and rays and to acquire new skills: snorkelling, scuba diving, species identification.
Despite the current covid situation, I was able to participate in several projects. I did many beautiful surveys full of surprises for the project Fly with Bull Rays.
I worked more specifically on the egg rescue project. We were going to make inventories of the elasmobranch species present at the market and look for eggs. We also visited a lot of fish shops which allowed us to discover the island and its inhabitants. As part of this project, we released six Small-spotted catsharks into the sea. This is one of my best memories of the course.
At Sharklab Malta, we always work as a team, and we met great people.
Sami Khalleff - Agronomical Science student, Dijon, France
March 2021 - August 2021
I’m from Marseille and I am a second-year student in an agronomical sciences engineering school in Dijon. In the future I would like to work in the preservation of the aquatic environment.
I was an intern during the covid period but that didn’t stop me from doing many things. Thanks to the Sharklab team, we did all the things we had to do on the internship.
As an intern in Sharklab it’s possible to participate in many activities and events like snorkel surveys to see skates and rays and do photo-identification, egg cases research, shark releases and dissections to learn more about elasmobranch anatomy.
I was focused on the project “Oviparous species rescue and releases program”. Going with the Sharklab team to the fish market to collect landings data and to recover egg-cases. We also went to many fish-shops to ask them to save the egg cases and especially skate egg cases when processing the skates and sharks.
My internship in Sharklab was my first professional experience in marine biology. I’ve learned so much and I’m sure that it’s an important step in my life.
Quentin Garemi - Agronomy Student, Avignony, France
March 2021 - August 2021
Hello, I’m Quentin, I live in France, in Avignon, and I’m an agronomy student in an engineering school.
In my internship, I did many snorkelling surveys, dissections, and talking to young children…
In Sharklab-Malta, I worked mainly with the “Fly With Bullrays” project. Indeed, my topic for my internship deals with the study of a population of rays and skates in the Maltese waters. So, with a lot of surveys, and some eggcase searches done on the beach and some visits to the wholesale fishmarket, I tried to determinate the differents species of rays and skates in Malta.
This internship in Sharklab-Malta, was an opportunity to develop my knowledge of the Mediterranean fauna and flora, and also about the autonomy of work.
My presence at Sharklab-Malta was a pleasure and I’m proud to have done my internship here, even if i arrived during the covid restrictions in Malta !
Daisy Drake-Lee - Cardiff University, BSc Marine Geography
September 2020 - July 2021
I am currently studying Marine Geography at Cardiff University. I became an intern at Sharklab-Malta during my placement year of University and loved every second. Being from the Midlands, I have never had the opportunity to regularly immerse myself in the marine environment, however this became my daily routine with Sharklab-Malta.
The internship provided me with a range of, once in a lifetime opportunities and experiences. I learnt to SCUBA dive, I learnt to recover egg cases from shark and skate species, I was able to educate the youth of Malta on elasmobranchs and I had the pleasure of swimming alongside Bull Rays, a beautiful species that are sadly critically endangered. However, the highlight of my internship had to be releasing five small-spotted catsharks back into the ocean on my 21st birthday!
I carried out my internship with Sharklab-Malta during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic which produced a range of challenges. Many activities had to be adapted to suit changing rules and regulations and in person education, a huge element of Sharklab’s work, had to be stopped. However, these challenges resulted in us coming up with new methods of communicating science which included producing videos and even a blog!
These opportunities provided me with a catalogue of valuable skills I will carry forward into my future career in marine science. I was also introduced to an amazing group of likeminded people I am sure to stay in contact with for the rest of my life.
India Stewart Evans - Marine Geography student at Cardiff University
September 2020 - July 2021
I am a BSc Marine Geography student studying at Cardiff University. I joined the Sharklab-Malta team for 10 months during the pandemic, and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Despite the adaptations we had to make, it was still a meaningful and educational experience being able to work alongside Sharklab’s wonderful team. As an intern, one of my main projects included snorkel surveying for the Fly With Bullrays programme. I had the opportunity to monitor, photograph and swim alongside this beautiful species, which are now sadly critically endangered.
Another important role I had was in assisting the Oviparous Recovery and Release programme, which involved working with local fishermen to recover viable eggs from various shark species in the fish market, before rearing those eggs and later releasing them back into their natural habitat. I was lucky enough to experience not one, but two shark releases, which was undoubtedly the highlight of my internship. Witnessing first-hand the results of conservation work undertaken at Sharklab-Malta was truly rewarding. Alongside these projects, we also promoted education and awareness in local schools and communities by teaching classes over Zoom, and eventually hosting exhibitions at the Malta National Aquarium – it was a welcome change being able to finally interact with members of the public again.
Among the many opportunities provided to me by interning with Sharklab-Malta was the chance to gain both my PADI Open Water and Advanced Open Water diving skills. This allowed me to experience Malta’s beautifully diverse marine ecology with a fresh perspective, and I hope to use those skills moving forward in my aspirations to continue marine conservation work.
Morgane Duffy - Agronomy Student, Avignony, France
March 2021 - July 2021
I am currently in my 2nd year of an engineering school of agronomy. I would like to work in ecology in order to preserve the fauna and the flora. I have always been concerned about environmental protection, especially marine wildlife protection as the oceans are the most important things on our planet, in my opinion.
Thankfully, despite Covid-19, Sharklab Malta decided to accept me as an intern for 4 months. I learned a lot as I did so many things (even if there were some covid restrictions) :
Snorkel survey to see rays and skates,
Going to the fish market to recover eggcases, and list the species of elasmobranch found
Eggcase research on the beaches
Dissection (especially of a Guitar fish!)
Raise awareness in schools about marine wildlife conservation by talking to school children
Exhibitions in the National Aquarium
I was working more on the “Fly with Bull Rays” project and I was asked to make posters to present the project, the materials used, the protocols to follow (data analysis) etc but I was also asked to record all ray sightings on the Sharklab Malta data base and on Manta Matcher. (international database recording sightings of Manta rays, Whale sharks and Bull Rays)
Moreover, I had the chance to pass the PADI Advance Open Water Diver, which is an asset for work on marine biology.
I really enjoyed my time in Malta with the Sharklab team and all of the interns.
The pictures above give a great view of the girl and her marine life!!!!
Rhiannon Plant - Marine Geography student, Cardiff University, UK
September 2020 - July 2021
I’m studying for a degree in Marine Geography at Cardiff University.
I spent 10 months at Sharklab Malta as an intern. Despite completing the internship during a global pandemic which brought its challenges (and Brexit which added its own layer of problems), I was still able to take part in all of the research activities and work alongside some amazing and passionate people.
Public awareness events were unfortunately reduced due to Covid-19 but with help from other members of the Sharklab team, we managed to create many online resources such as videos and educational resources for children and present our work to school pupils via online video calls.
The work I have completed at Sharklab has been incredibly rewarding and educational, for example getting to study Bull rays (a species I had never heard of before) up-close in their natural habitat as part of the Fly with Bull Rays project. The fish market data collection was always a sad but inspiring and unique learning opportunity, studying species that I may have otherwise never been able to see.
Alongside the research activities, I was given the opportunity to enhance my scuba-diving skills, progressing from the PADI Open Water Diver to the PADI Rescue Diver level and I completed over 40 dives during my stay in Malta! This allowed me to take part in under-water litter cleans and shark releases.
It really was a pleasure working at Sharklab Malta and I will take this valuable experience with me as I continue my career in marine conservation.
Tom Brady - Marine Geography student, Cardiff, UK
September 2020 - June 2021
I currently study Marine Geography at Cardiff University.
I worked with Sharklab Malta for 9 months during BOTH the COVID-19 pandemic and BREXIT. This gave me a unique experience as both Sharklab and I had to adapt to government restrictions to continue researching and educating about Elasmobranchs. (This included being stuck in UK after Christmas break whilst permits and visas were sorted out going from UK into EU after Brexit and complications of the new Delta variant, which involved quarantining!)
During my time there I still managed to visit schools (virtually) to talk about Sharklab Malta and what they do as an NGO. This was an amazing experience and a learning curve for all involved.
The “Fly With Bull Rays” project managed to continue throughout my placement and gave me the opportunity to observe juvenile A. bovinus in the wild as well as many other ray and skate species. Before my internship I hadn’t seen a ray or skate in the wild so this was a magical experience from start to finish of my placement. “Fish Market Data Collection” and the “Oviparous Species Recovery and Release Programme” were other projects I was heavily involved with, this opened my eyes on the impacts of overfishing and how important these projects were to try and combat this.
Finally, I managed to become a PADI certified Advance Diver and take part in numerous dives around Malta. This was made affordable and possible by Sharklab. Diving is a skill I hope to continue and improve upon in the future.
I would like to thank everyone at Sharklab Malta for the experience and skills gained that I will carry into my future career and I hope to meet them again in the future!
Anaïs Martin - Masters in Marine Biology, Sorbonne, France
July 2020 - August 2020
Hi, I am Anaïs, I am currently in the second year of my Masters in Marine biology. My project is to study top predator behaviour.
I was supposed to come to Sharklab for five months but because of Covid-19 I only came for a month.
We did several tasks for Sharklab but our main focus was the project “Fly with Bull Rays”. We went in the field to take pictures of individual Bull rays and thanks to image j software we could identify individuals by the stripes on their backs. The stripes are unique and like fingerprints.
We also went to the fish market, where we measured and counted the sharks and rays that were brought in by the fishers. It was really sad to realize and see how much they are threatened.
We also did shark dissections; it allowed us to have a better understanding of shark anatomy.
We also prepared samples from the sharks in order to make specimens for presentations to the public.
We did many tasks in Sharklab, it was very nice to discover new tasks and be polyvalent.
I really liked this experience and was happy to share this passion with other people that share the same interest.
All the Sharklab team were very nice and we appreciated working together.
This is why this experience allowed me to get closer to my goal and to meet motivated people to save these amazing animals.
Elise Delcour – Marine Sciences Masters, Sorbonne, France
July 2020 - August 2020
I am planning to make the study and conservation of top predators my future research subject. Despite the COVID crisis, I wanted to continue to gain experience and knowledge in the field of sharks and rays population studies and this is what I found in my internship with the Sharklab!
Indeed, as a “Fly with Bull Rays” intern, I’ve been asked to prepare shark’s dissection, photo-identification, wholesale fish market inspection and public presentation.
It also made me discover the Bull ray (Aetomylaeus bovinus) species, which is unprotected in the Mediterranean sea, despite the fact that they are considered as critically endangered.
Furthermore, working with Sharklab gave me the chance to meet and laugh with some incredible people. Working with other ocean lovers is always so motivating.
This new experience has allowed me to move a little further on the path of studying large predators, and I hope to have the opportunity to be able to work together with Sharklab in the future!
Ella Zahra – I Was an Accidental Sharklab Intern
June 2020 - September 2020
Hi! I’m Ella, a third year undergraduate Marine Biology student studying in Scotland. After my second year at university was cut short unexpectedly by the pandemic, I had to move from Scotland to Malta for six months. I had no assignments or work set up for the summer and made a decision to contact Sharklab Malta to see if I could become an intern on short notice. I had been following their work for the last couple of years and thought it could be fun.
Because of other interns having to postpone or cancel their internships, I was given a place as a Sharklab intern and joined Will and Anona in the Fly With the Bull Rays project. I had never seen a bull ray before and going round the island to different bays really opened my eyes to the amazing underwater wildlife of the Maltese Islands. When the COVID cases calmed down in July, I got to meet the rest of the team and some new interns. Despite a reduced number of activities, the three other interns and I still had an amazing time and plenty to do.
With loads of help from Pam, Dave and Rachel, we got to dissect two Longnose Spurdogs (S. blainvilli) to add to the exhibition collection, have multiple visits to the wholesale fish market where we rescued four nursehound shark eggs from dead mothers, and went on Sharklab’s first surveys in Gozo. I had an unexpectedly amazing summer and learned so much from the members of Sharklab Malta. Joining their family was the best decision I made during the pandemic. I can’t wait to join the family again when I’m back in Malta!
Nouska Smith – Sparsholt University, UK
July 2020 - August 2020
Hello! I am Nouska Smith and I study marine ecology and conservation at Sparsholt University. Although covid-19 cut my internship short in Malta, I still gained a great amount of knowledge and new skills.
The main tasks I took part in included the ‘Fly with Bullrays project’, presentations, dissections and the rescuing of egg cases at the fish market. I enjoyed every aspect of my internship and every task was filled with new facts and information!
The dissections were my favourite part, seeing the anatomy and understanding the system as a whole gave me a greater insight and can be used for future educational reasons for the next generation.
Meeting other interns and members of Sharklab-Malta who are just as passionate as I am about the ocean drives me forward and motivates me to continue on the pathway of marine biology.
I cannot wait to go back to experience and learn more!
Will Redding – Nottingham Trent University, England
February 2020 - July 2020
Hi, I’m Will and I came to Malta in February of 2020 to complete an internship as part of my university course, wildlife conservation.
I chose Sharklab as I wanted to gain knowledge and experience that can only be obtained by spending time with the passionate people on the front line of conservation.
The whole team at Sharklab helped me immensely and I thoroughly enjoyed the range of activities I assisted with. Despite being in Malta through the first wave of COVID-19 I was still able to complete some work as me and another intern continued to survey the sandy areas around Malta’s coastline looking for Bullrays, contributing to the ongoing project ‘Fly with Bullrays”.
Each new experience taught me invaluable skills whilst making me proud to be helping to progress the research, public awareness and valuable conservation work that Sharklab-Malta conducts. Everyone I met during my time became a good friend and I look forward to seeing them again!
Anona Griffiths - Cardiff University, Wales
February 2020 - July 2020
My name is Nona and I am a Marine Geography student from Cardiff University. I came to Sharklab-Malta as part of my year in placement and I absolutely loved my time with such a passionate charity.
I was able to take part in international projects, surveying for the Fly with Bullrays project. I was able to attend fish markets and gather catch data, this gave me insight into the government procedures and the inner workings of fisheries. I also took part in egg case recovery, removing eggs from sharks, skates and rays, which have of been caught prior to laying them. This meant that as well as collecting data I got to be a part of conservation with a physical end result that could be seen immediately. I also gained valuable experience in dissecting elasmobranchs and understanding the adaptations they have gained to survive.
Prior to lockdown I was also able to gain lots of experience in education giving talks at schools and events at Malta National Aquarium.
My placement was initially planned to last for three months but due to COVID-19 I chose to remain in Malta and undergo lockdown there with another intern. We continued surveying for the FWBR’s project when and where it was safe to do so. I was eventually able to continue the rest of my work for Sharklab and my placement was extended to 5 months. I’m so grateful for these extra two months as I was able to expand on my scuba-diving, my knowledge of elasmobranchs and the number of surveys I was able to complete.
The experience I gained was incredible and gave me so much insight into a job and working life in conservation. Overall, I look forward to returning to Malta and working with Sharklab again in the future and I would recommend this experience to anyone looking to gain an understanding of working in conservation.
Rhianna Kemp – Bangor University, Wales
September 2019 - April 2020
Hey shark lovers, I’m Rhianna Kemp, a 4th year undergraduate at Bangor University. I am studying Marine Biology with Zoology and I have been with Sharklab-Malta since September as part of my international work experience year. I chose Sharklab-Malta as it matches my interests of marine research and conservation and my main role at this organisation is the ‘Fly with Bullrays project’. The aim of this project is to learn more about the enigmatic Bullray (Aetomylaeus bovinus), a species of stingray, and therefore my main task involves tracking these rays on an individual level. To do this I go snorkelling in sandy areas and take photos of the top of the Bullray, which has blue stripes, that acts as a ‘fingerprint’ to identify them. I then log the locations that each bullray is found and create a database for each individual with the overall aim to see if they migrate throughout the Mediterranean.
My time so far at Sharklab-Malta has been a joy and a pleasure. I look forward to the coming months of my internship and I hope to meet you at the Sharklab awareness days!
Ben Mason – Bangor University, Wales
September 2019 - April 2020
Hello everybody! My name is Ben Mason and I am an intern at Sharklab-Malta as part of my bachelor’s degree at Bangor University. I am studying marine biology and am obsessed with chondrichthyans, particularly the elasmobranchs, that led to me to Malta to complete the final year of my studies.
Through the myriad of different activities I am involved with at Sharklab-Malta (fish market surveys, egg case surveys, public events) I find myself most engrossed with the fly with bull rays project. This project involves identifying locations that support the bull ray (Aetomylaeus bovinus) and identifying them on an individual basis. This involves photographing their dorsal side that have blue stripes unique to each individual like a fingerprint. As these organisms are critically endangered and data deficient any information gathered regarding them assists in their research and conservation, so I increasingly find myself drawn to this project.
I look forward to the coming months and my remaining time at Sharklab-Malta and the possibilities and experiences that may present themselves while here.
Arjen Meester – Eco & Wildlife Student, Netherlands
June 2019 - August 2019
Hello everybody, I’m Arjen Meester and I live in the Netherlands. I study Eco & Wildlife. I enjoyed every single bit of my internship. Every day was different. You never get bored with Sharklab-Malta.
One day you raise awareness in the Malta National Aquarium. The other day you do a dissection with all different kinds of sea creatures.
Some days we went to the fish market, and it was always a surprise what you could find there. It’s sad to see the dead animals, but feels good that you can save the eggs. What I loved the most about my internship, was being in the water doing field work, and collecting data. We gained a lot of muscle during fieldwork, carrying all the stuff we needed. Especially while travelling in an over full public bus, smelling like fish bait.
The overall experience was excellent, it will never be forgotten. Always I will have a special place in my heart for the little rock in the Mediterranean. I feel proud to be a part of the Sharklab family!
Joachim Millan Candela – VetAgro Sup, France
June 2019 - August 2019
I am French and was studying in VetaAgro Sup in France.
My experience in Sharklab: Snorkelling surveys, awareness days at the Malta National Aquarium, dissections, shark releases … sure thing is, you never get bored with Sharklab!
My internship was a very valuable experience for me both on a professional and personal level. I loved partaking in every Sharklab activity especially the ones related to the “Fly With Bullrays” project. Along with three other interns, our team had to spot Bullrays while snorkelling and take a picture of their dorsal stripes, so we could analyze them and identify individuals. We were very autonomous and I learned so much from a professional standpoint. Working with people who are as enthusiastic as you are about marine biology was very stimulating and I really felt like I was part of the organization.
With Sharklab, it DOES feel like you’re making a difference!
Sarah Hewitt - Cardiff University, Wales
June 2018 - March 2019
I am currently in my final year at Cardiff University studying BSc Marine Geography and I was an intern for Sharklab-Malta as part of my university placement year. My journey with Sharklab-Malta was a whirlwind! During my nine month internship I met so many amazing people with a shared love for the ocean! I also learnt to scuba dive and found a love for sharks. I spent most of my time in the sea conducting snorkel surveys for the Fly with Bull Rays Project. If I wasn’t in the ocean I was behind a Sharklab-Malta stall helping to educate the public on elasmobranchs and hopefully change their perceptions of sharks. In 2020 I hope to graduate from Cardiff University, travel the world (including a trip back to Malta) and spread some shark love!
Abbie Jenkins - Cardiff University, Wales
June 2018 - December 2018
Hi, I’m Abbie Jenkins and I am a Marine Geography student from Cardiff University.
My 6-month internship with Sharklab–Malta is an experience I will never forget; I have memories I will cherish forever. Throughout my time I was involved in a wide range of day-to-day responsibilities with my main project working with “Fly with Bull rays”. Daily activities required snorkel surveys at different sites across Malta and helping with the data collection of migration patterns and Bull ray numbers by using photo identification methods.
One of my favourite activities over my time was helping and being a part of different educational events and workshops with my favourite being “Science in the City” located in Valetta and the Fish Fest located in Marsaxlokk. The workshops helped me gain knowledge and improve my communication skills that will help me in the future.
enjoyed being a part of educating local people and inspiring the next generation to do the same. One of my lasting memories with Sharklab was being able to be a part of a shark release in Qawra where seven tagged Nursehounds and seven Smallspotted catsharks were released into the ocean bringing Sharklabs total release number to over 300.
Since graduating Abbie has taken up an interesting ecology role. You can read her latest blog post here
Laurie Sazerat - Clermont-Auvergne University, France
May 2018 - July 2018
Professional training: « DUT biological engineering option Environmental engineering »
In May to July 2018, I was an intern at Sharklab Malta and it was an incredible experience.
I experimented with a photo-ID method on a species of ray – Bull ray.
I discovered the beaches of Malta and the marine ecosystem.
My best memory was when I saw the first bull ray of the season at Golden Bay.
Through dives, educational activities and participation at fish market I learned and discovered many facets of marine ecology but also the passionate members of the association. Wonderful experience!
Pauline Lapostolle - Faculty of Science, Montpellier, France
May 2018 - August 2018
Hi, I am Pauline Lapostolle, a French Masters student studying marine ecological engineering and biodiversity management at the Faculty of Science in Montpellier. I am especially interested in sharks, rays and skates species which I started to study with Ailerons Association in France several years ago. I chose to dedicate my internship, for almost 5 months, working with Sharklab-Malta, which gave me the opportunity to carry-out the study on two threatened batoid species : Bull rays (Aetomylaeus bovinus) and Common stingrays (Dasyatis pastinaca). These two species have already been recorded several times in several Maltese bays, so it can be hypothesised that if such species occur around these areas it is because specific environmental factors suit them particularly well there. My objective was to get a better understanding of their spatial distribution around Malta, which could be a useful tool for their future conservation.
I hope that my study can help to optimise Sharklab-Malta surveys in the future, and help to improve the knowledge about the biology and ecology of these two threatened species.
Elle Bartleet – Cardiff University, Wales
October 2017 - March 2018
I am an undergraduate student from Cardiff University and since October I have been volunteering with Sharklab-Malta. My primary focus is with the ‘Fly with Bull Rays’ project whereby I use a non-invasive, intra-specific methodology, which allows me to be near the rays without harming them. The project is an incredible opportunity to see marine life and gain skills in snorkelling and diving, which is something I really enjoy. To see Bull rays in their natural habitat is beautiful, considering they’re a critically endangered species, I feel very lucky to observe them.
Being an intern with Sharklab-Malta has also been very interesting, particularly when I have attend the fish market. The diversity of Cartilaginous and bony fish there is impressive. These visits have allowed me to gain knowledge and skill in the identification of species, this is important for me as I hope to pursue a career in marine conservation. Overall, my internship with Sharklab-Malta has been an amazing experience, one I’ll never forget.
Shraveena Venkatesh - Ghent University, Belgium
April 2016 - June 2016
Hi, I’m Shraveena and I am a student at Ghent University (EMBC+ Programme)
During my internship, I assisted in fish market surveys of elasmobranch species. I got to see all kinds of interesting (and sometimes surprisingly large) rays, skates, sharks, bony fish and other marine animals. I also learnt how to check oviparous sharks and skates for eggcases and remove them for a rescue and release programme.
I helped dissect sharks and worked on getting parts of them, like their jaws, ready for displays. I had the opportunity to help use such displays to engage the public with the fascinating biology and physiology of elasmobranchs.
We also carried out eggcase hunts on beaches to help determine when and where the oviparous sharks of the Mediterranean breed. I also had plenty of opportunities to snorkel and look for bull rays for a photo-id catalogue.
I learnt a lot about elasmobranch biology and ecology.
The skills and experience I gained here helped me in my further education and with my master’s thesis. I also got to explore the beautiful Maltese islands, and snorkel through its bays where I saw my very first Common Stingray.
Right now I am working now on my PhD in Scotland, which is going well so far. I just completed a year and had a big scary review meeting. I assume it went well because I wasn’t thrown out of the university. I had some fieldwork off the Orkney Islands and got to do a little more travelling in Scotland. I am enjoying the Highlands of Scotland so far, despite the weather.
I’m even learning some Scottish Gaelic and learning about whisky as well. I’ll be going home to Bangalore over Christmas break for three weeks. I’ve already made a list of all the foods that I miss from home and that I want to eat when I’m there (most of them are very spicy). I am really looking forward to it.
I enjoyed every part of my internship. I had an incredible experience, thanks to Sharklab-Malta, especially Pam, Dave and Greg.
Mickey Saunders - Hadlow College, England
March 2016 - April 2016
I was with Sharklab-Malta for three weeks from March 2016 until April 2016. When I was being met in by Sharklab-Malta members at Malta International Airport they asked how they would recognise me. I told them it would be easy as I would be the only arrival with pink and blue hair! (and I was!!!)
I was studying at Hadlow College in Aquaculture and Fisheries Management and whilst on my placement in Malta, I carried out many tasks such as repainting the divers air tank strap on sharkfins, activity days at Malta National Aquarium and visiting the fish market. My favourite task was the dissection of a female Nursehound, fondly named Jemima. (The Nursehound (Scyliorhinus stellaris), also known as the Large-spotted dogfish, Greater spotted dogfish or Bull huss, is a species of catshark) We preserved the eggs, organs, skin and skull for educational purposes, it is still being used for this purpose.
I also truly enjoyed being a part of a shark release despite being unable to dive. It was a very special day in my life and a privilege to be part of.
The lasting memory from this experience is the knowledge that even short amounts of time can make a difference too many people, both in knowledge, support and education as a whole. I am truly grateful to have had this experience.
I’m currently working for a finance company in customer services but now I have passed my driving test I’m trying to get out of that into a more meaningful job. I am thinking of undertaking a teaching position so I can try to make a difference to people.
Aurélia Changeant - Agrocampus Ouest Engineering School, France
June 2014 - August 2014
Hello, I’m Aurélia, I have a masters degree in Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences from the French engineering school of Agrocampus Ouest.
During my two month internship in Sharklab Malta I took part in all of the Sharklab day-to-day activities: awareness events, getting landings data from the Valetta fish market, preparing awareness kits …
I also wrote a synthesis about shark fisheries management in Malta, France and United Kingdom. I learnt a lot about sharks and Mediterranean marine life during my time in Sharklab and it was a great experience to share knowledge with Sharklab staff and also with the general public during awareness events.
The diversity of sharks and rays species in the Mediterranean is extraordinary. Elasmobranches play a key role in the marine ecosystems, but they are vulnerable to human activities. I was glad to help Sharklab in their actions and the work they co-operate with the Maltese aquarium, the fishmarket and many other Maltese and international organisations.
My photos really represent my internship.
Charlie Widehem - Engineering School student, France
November 2013 - February 2014
I am 27 years old and I’m from France. I am very grateful to Sharklab for accepting me as intern for three months in November 2013. I was studying marine biology and fishery in an engineering school.
I’ve always been a great fan of marine ecosystems and especially sharks. Not only the animal but everything that gravitates around them: from the biology to the societal aspect of our interactions. Greg, Pam, Dave and all the other extraordinary people who invest their time and effort in the NGO gave me the opportunity to fully dive into the Maltese shark world and fulfill my curiosity, whilst becoming my friends.
Since the end of my internship I have visited them several times and it is always such a pleasure to jump back in their daily activities – such as the well known and smelly fish market, biology and anatomy study through dissections, jaws cleaning, egg case searches, and one of the best parts, the numerous outdoor exhibitions.
Meeting people and sharing our passion was I think the best part of my internship.
After gaining my marine biology engineering diploma I worked for the ICCAT on Bluefin tuna conservation. Currently not working in marine biology in my new place as a data analyst. My plan is to move soon back into this field with my girlfriend. We are planning in go to oyster farming.
Kristina Edwards - University of Perpignan, France
February 2013 - August 2013
I was studying for a Masters degree in Biology at the University of Perpignan, France and wanted to specialise in Elasmobranchs. Sharklab-Malta offered me a great opportunity to study during my six months the Small-spotted catshark among other Mediterranean species.
Since leaving Malta I have worked at Sealife in Birmingham and I am now an aquarist at Loro Parque, Canary islands, so hopefully speaking fluent Spanish in few months and a very nice place to be.
It was a great experience that I will never forget, surrounded by passionate and knowledgeable people.
A huge Thank you to the team.