The Two Oceans Aquarium believes in educating people of all ages. This includes offering internships to university students as part of their Work Integrated Learning (WIL) modules.

The Aquarium’s WIL programme gives undergraduate students the opportunity to obtain a variety of practical experience in areas relating to marine science. Areas of experience include animal care and husbandry, engaging with like-minded staff and volunteers, environmental education in the form of hands-on learning in our Discovery Centres and outreach programmes, as well as research and conservation. Students gain a better understanding as to why it is important to care, study, and conserve the marine environment. Students also develop an appreciation of the role of visitor attractions such as ourselves that focus on environmental education and awareness.

Sesethu assisting with animal food preparation in the curatorial kitchen.

The WIL programme further fulfils the Aquarium’s mandate in the field of marine science and conservation research and technology development, training and capacity building. WIL training includes literature review and report writing skills, presentation skills, research and data analysis skills.

Meet some of our WIL interns

Two students, Sesethu Luzipo and Aviwe Matshopa, who are both in their third year of studying Marine Science at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (and who had never been to the Aquarium before), are doing their WIL internships in our Curatorial Department at the moment. Aviwe and Sesethu’s lecturer at CPUT encouraged them to choose the Aquarium based on their results, values, personalities, and the kind of job they were looking for.

Their internship, which commenced in July and will last for five months, involves completing a research assignment. When Sesethu and Aviwe first arrived, Two Oceans Aquarium Curator Maryke Musson provided them with choices for their research assignments to complete during their stay.

Aviwe collecting data as part of his research assignment.

While at the Aquarium, they have two projects they need to complete and their daily activities vary. Aviwe’s task is to examine the food intake of African penguins in relation to their different sizes, ages and weights. Data for this is collected during our feeding times. Sesethu has chosen the same project, but with northern rockhopper penguins. Age is split into two groups - birds hatched before 2005 and birds hatched after 2005. The results so far show that a relationship exists where bigger birds, older birds, and males eat more than smaller birds, younger birds, and females.

Aviwe works with the African penguins on Mondays and Fridays. This work includes preparing their food, feeding the birds, walking them and cleaning the beach, most importantly making sure they get fed. His other assignment is to test water quality within the V&A Waterfront precinct. Sesethu works with penguins on Wednesdays and you’re likely to find her in the culture lab on other days experimenting on different diets for rotifers. They both also assist with siphoning tanks in the Environmental Education Centre as well as feeding some of the animals at the Aquarium, like our favourites the clownfish and cleaner shrimp.

Aviwe assisting with food prep for the day.

Sesethu says she chose to study Marine Science because of her natural interest in biology. She was keen to understand the way other organisms exist and behave. She had taken a liking to marine life in particular and chose to study Marine Sciences. Aviwe, on the other hand, grew up in Mossel Bay and dreamt of becoming an engineer but was inspired by his love for the coast and passion for exploration and landed on Marine Sciences purely out of curiosity.

Rockies love giving out hugs. #TrusStory

Rodashia Basson is a WIL student who has successfully completed her course and after doing so joined the Aquarium’s animal health team as an intern. Her research project was on Cape fur seals within the V&A Waterfront harbour and her second research assignment was on biosecurity in the Aquarium. The latter involved research on diseases and pathogens – how they occur, how they are transferred, and how they can be prevented.

Rodashia admiring one of her favourite animals, the Bluefin Gurnard, in quarantine.

During her WIL, Rodashia started off by cleaning various displays, such as the stingrays and octopus tanks, and then made her way to the kitchen to prepare food for the animals. Now that she has completed her WIL she is an intern in our quarantine facility and assists with feeding and cleaning of tanks. Rodashia enjoys her day-to-day activities at the Aquarium, saying: “The thing I enjoy most about working here is learning about different aspects of marine life. For example, when a fish dies and a postmortem is done it’s rather exciting to find out what happened so that you can come up with solutions to prevent it from happening in the future.” She says that there is a lot to learn about all aspects of the Aquarium and you never stop learning wherever you go.

Rodashia takes pride in keeping her quarantine area spick and span.

WIL at the Aquarium involves physical interactions and exposes students to many things they may not have been aware of. Rodashia, Aviwe and Sesethu all agree that the WIL programme has been helpful and they would definitely recommend it to other students who are considering a career in Marine Sciences, as it is a hands-on approach to theory and knowledge gained in lectures. 

CPUT students who would like the opportunity to complete an internship at the Two Oceans Aquarium for the Work Integrated Learning component of your studies, can discuss the possibility of a project here with their potential project supervisor.

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