The internship is based on a period of supervised training that involves taking of practical instructions from supervisors and staff for the purposes of getting insight into the career and a field of study (Shellenbarger, 2009). The objective of the project undertaken was to familiarize students with the working environment, understand the marine biology of the region and carry a study into the sea otters. In addition, the understanding of the geology of the area and survey of the macro-invertebrates formed a part of the project. The mission of the organization, where the project took place, is the promotion of a safe marine environment for its users through community engagement.
The twelve-day internship proved to be of importance as learning objectives were met as envisaged. Using the GPS technology, the location of otters was determined. It also emerged that a large number of mammals is found in deep waters as established by Koepfli et al. (2008). It was possible to evaluate the otters’ preys that were found between low and high tides through the research carried out by the participants. The behavioral data collected facilitated the understanding of otters’ characteristics and interactions. Firstly, the feeding behavior was determined leading to the conclusion that otters spend most of the time eating because they have high metabolism rate (Koepfli et al., 2008). The main source of food is macro invertebrates, crabs, octopuses and mussels, most of which are easily found at the bay.
Secondly, it was possible to develop a deeper understanding of the mating process and reproductive systems. In fact, otters were found to be polygamous in nature, since older males deny younger males the chance to mate with females. According to Ortiz (2001), males defend the territories to attract the females for mating. Through proximity analysis, it was confirmed that mating heavily depended on the presence of females.
Thirdly, the resting habits were brought into focus. During resting, sea otters loosely drape their kelp around themselves for warmth. In addition, they can rest on their backs. Lastly, during grooming the legs and webbed feet are used. It can be concluded that otter species is very interactive due to their playful nature, an aspect that makes them easy to study.
In addition to study of biology, the geology was evaluated, as the structure of the project area consisted of highly glaciated mountains and ranges. According to Ortiz (2001), the area has very old rocks which belong to the Paleozoic age. Notably, the presence of faults, islands and forests became apparent. The area is rich in marine biology with an excessive presence of marine fish and birds such as pigeons, guillemots, harlequin ducks and northwester crows.
In order to achieve the objectives, it was important for students to undergo training on the use of handheld GPS receivers and GIS software. The process involved downloading the data from the receiver to the computer and manipulating it, operating the machines, loading data and launching the GIS program. Based on the aforementioned training, various technical skills were learned. Spatial mapping of otters’ habitats and their distribution was important before any analysis was conducted. The use of photos to get data on sea otters’ habitats and distribution offered the opportunity to learn the principles of image identification. Similarly, the culture of analytical thinking was developed through the application of statistical and non-statistical analyses of the data collected in the field. Radio telemeters are specialized tools that were used to monitor otters’ movement by attaching them to their hind flippers. High-resolution telescopes were also used to attain a clear view of animals and other distant features. The use of handheld computers and VHF receivers helped to store GPS coordinates temporarily before downloading them on the desktop for manipulation. Moreover, written skills were improved as it was compulsory for every student to book field data, which was used for evening presentation. In fact, presentations boosted individuals’ public speaking skills. Direct observation also helped participants greatly.
The internship provided a platform to relate information learned in class to the practical aspects. Thus, it served as motivation to my studies because it persuaded me to appreciate the theory work done in class. On the other hand, it was important to my professional development as it enabled the exploration of various career avenues and potential employment companies. Additionally, the internship was a source of professional work experience since it facilitated interactions with professionals.
In conclusion, the internship met all the objectives, and was a source of inspiration and knowledge. The theoretical information studied in class was brought into the real world through practice, which increases students’ interest and motivation. Hence, internships should be encouraged and taken seriously by all participants.
Definition of Terms
- GPS refers to the global position system, which captures a navigation system consisting of satellites used to give precise positions of objects both in air, sea, and on the ground.
- GIS refers to geographic information system, which is a collection of computer hardware, software, people and data working together for the purposes of capturing, storing, manipulating and displaying data.
- Spatial mapping refers to linking objects to their position by providing addresses.
- Proximity analysis is a method of examining and determining the relationship and distance between an object and its neighbors, and how they interact.
- Low tide is the time when a tide is at its lowest point.
High tide refers to the time when the tide is at its highest point.
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