Allie Meredith interned with our membership department for six weeks this year.
This summer (well, winter!) I left my warm, sunny home in California to travel around the world to Cape Town. Why Cape Town? Honestly, I knew nothing about the city and little about South Africa before planning my trip. A Google search led me to an internship programme in Cape Town, which then placed me at the Two Oceans Aquarium. When I told people back home that I was going to Cape Town, they would tell me that Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Now I couldn’t agree more!
The past six weeks at the Aquarium and in Cape Town have flown by, and I wish I didn’t have to leave so soon.
One of my favorite activities I experienced here at the Aquarium was diving in the I&J Ocean Exhibit and the Ocean Basket Kelp Forest Exhibit.
Experiencing the displays from inside is a completely different world. I was able to pet Yoshi the loggerhead turtle, swim through the school of sardines, and wave at kids from above in the tunnel.
As I was coming out from the I&J Ocean Exhibit, Bob, a green sea turtle, came up and wanted a scratch. He would turn from side to side “asking” to be scratched on his shell. What a funny turtle!
In the Ocean Basket Kelp Forest Exhibit we fed cut-up pieces of squid to the big fish. I would hold the squid in my hand, and their huge suction mouths would come and suck it right up. By the time I exited the kelp forest, I was shaking from the cold but could not stop smiling. What an amazing experience to be able to swim next to the creatures of the ocean!
On another day at the Aquarium I shadowed the penguin team. I observed the morning feeding and helped clean the Penguin Exhibit, brought to you by OId Mutual Finance. After that, I joined the marine biology interns in the kitchen to assist in preparing the food for the day. I helped cut up squid, which I found slimy and gross, but I know the animals love it!
Every afternoon, the northern rockhopper penguins move from their exhibit downstairs to their exhibit next to the African penguins. To get there, the penguins have to walk through the Aquarium. I helped herd the penguins through the Aquarium and up to their exhibit. It is quite a comical scene! The little penguins waddle quickly in a line and seem to know the drill. A long parade of little children trying to get as close as possible are instructed to stay behind all the penguins. Once the penguins were settled in, the afternoon feeding took place. I was able to help record the data of the feeding, which includes what and how much each penguin is eating. During the feedings, the different personalities of the penguins started to shine, with some having to be coaxed out to eat and others boldly trying to eat as much as possible.
The Aquarium also offers an ocean safari with their partner Ocean Adventurer. On one of those sunny Cape Town winter days, I took a nice break from my work and explored Table Bay. While out on the boat, I saw penguins, seals, dolphins, and a beautiful view of the city!
Though I had many fun days here at the Aquarium, I did actually do work! As a Business major, I conducted some marketing research on different aspects of the membership programme. Part of my research included taking surveys from members about their experiences. Though some members had a rather hard time understanding my American accent, they were all so nice. At the member sleepover while getting surveys, I had one member make me a delicious ice cream cone!
Not only does the Two Oceans Aquarium have great members, but they also have amazing staff! From teaching me some Xhosa phrases to taking me to watch Finding Dory, the staff has made my time here extra special. I will miss taking my breaks to wander around and look at the fascinating creatures that call the Aquarium home, having lunch breaks at delicious V&A Waterfront eateries, and all the great people I have met.