Lowry interns at Oceans Research in South Africa

SALEM — After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in marine biology and conservation biology from Bowling Green State University this past December, Kate Lowry of Salem, shown above, was accepted for an internship in South Africa at Oceans Research.

“The main purpose of the internship was to study the population dynamics of great white sharks in the city where I lived for two months, Mossel Bay,” said Lowry. “Oceans research uses the data of population dynamics to track the age, sex, and overall number of sharks in the bay during certain times of the year.

“Almost every day a team of field specialists, doctorate students and the interns would go out into the bay on a small boat. To lure in the sharks, one intern would put chum (sea water and sardines) into the water while two interns stood on the crow’s nest to watch for sharks. Once the great whites would come toward the boat, an intern would take a photo of the dorsal fin and the field specialist would say the size and defining features of the shark. Each individual shark has a unique dorsal fin, so the photographs of the fins can be used to identify sharks in the bay. We would also take GoPro videos of the sharks underwater to be able to determine the sex of the shark,” she said.

“Despite what many people think about sharks, they are an extremely important animal to study and protect. Sharks are a ‘keystone species’ which means that they serve an important role in the ecosystem by keeping the food chain flowing correctly. Shark finning for shark fin soup and overfishing are causing the populations of sea life to suffer. More people are killed by coconuts a year than sharks” said Lowry.

Lowry is continuing her education at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, studying for a master’s degree in conservation biology. She is the daughter of Chris and Krista Lowry of Salem and the granddaughter of Suzanne Cain and Marion Franzen.

— Submitted material