By Eliane Pugh/University of Mississippi
OXFORD – Martha Frances Dalton of Corinth, a senior biology major at the University of Mississippi, interned in southern Africa last summer with the Oceans Research program, which provides and facilitates research relevant to the management and conservation of marine life.
Highlights of the experience, she said, included breaking a world record for tracking a great white shark, scuba diving with sharks to monitor their continuing presence in a given area and observing a white shark leap clear out of the water in a natural predatory interaction with seals.
Dalton is a member of the Sally McDonnell Honors College, which provided a stipend for the internship. A graduate of Corinth High School, Dalton is the daughter of Dr. Frank and Katie Dalton.
“Without the Honors College, none of this would have been possible,” she said. “This was my first encounter with any sort of scientific research. The knowledge and firsthand experience that I acquired will stay with me as I decide my future educational and occupational goals. This internship also guided me in some decisions regarding the subject matter of my senior honors thesis.”
Dalton was stationed for a month at Mossel Bay, South Africa, where her team collected data to monitor the abundance and behavior of great white sharks, which are at the top of the food chain and frequent the bay to hunt for resident Cape fur seals and the numerous species of pelagic fish.
On this charge, she was on a research team that broke the world record for the longest manual acoustic tracking of a great white.
“We tracked Pinocchio, a white female, for 106 consecutive hours,” she said. “Though this was definitely a highlight of my experiences, it was a demanding goal that required long work hours and several cold, all-night shifts on our research vessel.”
Ole Miss Honors College
– For more information about the University of Mississippi Honors College, visit www.honors.olemiss.edu.