A Summer Swimming with Sharks

By Allie Garrow

Over the summer, DSU sophomore, Liberty Krieger voluntarily entered the waters in La Paz, Mexico with dozens of sharks in pursuit of an enriching internship experience in the field of biology.

“We would go into the water and start chumming to attract the sharks, especially silky and scalloped hammer-heads,” said Krieger. “Anytime we would find quite a bit of them accumulating, we would snorkel down to take video and tag them.”

Growing up in San Diego, California, Kriegers curiosity of sharks began as a little girl, constantly being warned by her parents.

“Don’t go out too far, you’ll run into a shark,” they’d warn her. Clinging to her childhood caution, she was left with ample curiosity to search them out for a summer internship experience, being that she had yet to come into contact with one. Her forewarning about the dangers of sharks peeked Kriegers interest to learn more about their interactions and migration patterns.

During her month-long internship with Pelagios Kakunja, Krieger participated in what she describes as an absolutely rad hands-on experience. The internship included taking diet and nutritional analysis, learning biopsy and blood sampling techniques, habitat sampling, underwater and aerial drone surveys, assisting with shark tagging trips, and more.

“One of my biggest take-aways from this experience would have to be all the hands-on aspects of learning how to appropriately hold down a Sharknose without making them feel uncomfortable or hurt in any way, and also learning to safely redirect sharks,” said Krieger. “The whole thing was insanely affirming.”

Dixie State University’s “active learning. active life.” approach to education promotes hands-on, personalized learning experiences both in and out of the classroom and encourages a dynamic, engaged approach to life. This enables students to flourish not only while attending DSU but in their careers, community and in life.

Krieger encourages those looking for an ultimate internship experience to first figure out what your passion is and then do thorough research on companies you might be interested in interning with.

“I actually reached out to seven interns on Instagram that had already gone through the program before. It’s insane how much of a resource that can be,” said Krieger. “I asked everyone their opinion on what they learned, and everyone said that what they know about sharks is all the knowledge they gained from Pelagios Kakunja.”

After doing personal research and finding valuable reviews, Krieger connected with and sought advice from her academic counselors and professors.

“Being able to have access to people who have been in the field, and have actually done research on sharks, such as Professor Ciaccio who teaches in the department of Biological Sciences, has helped me build a fundamental understanding of biology useful in preparing me for this internship experience,” said Krieger.

For assistance in finding an internship that’s right for you, visit career.dixie.edu/internships, or to learn more about Pelagios Kakunja’s shark internship program, visit pelagioskakunja.org/internship-program.