“This was an opportunity of a lifetime, and I am the first to experience it!”
19 year-old Shaun Wee is currently on a 4-month internship program at our Subic Bay facility, doing laboratory work, water quality measurements, and prepping fish food. And he loves it.
Shaun is the very first intern at the Marine Life Park, where he learnt the ropes from our team of marine mammal specialists and vets. His internship is the result of a partnership between Resorts World and Temasek Polytechnic, the first in Singapore to offer a formal three year Diploma in Veterinary Technology program in 2007.
This partnership meant both Resorts World and Temasek Polytechnic would work hand in hand on various research and educational programs and projects related to marine and wildlife conservation for the students from the Diploma in Veterinary Technology and Diploma in Biotechnology courses.
We caught up with the quiet and studious 19-year old and he shares his Subic experience with us.
Tell us how you got this internship?
I am from Temasek Polytechnic, Diploma in Veterinary Technology. This course is my first choice, as I wanted to pursue a career working with animals. I have a strong interest in marine animals and I love the ocean. Diving, for example is one of my passions as the underwater world is so beautiful and mysterious.
This internship opportunity was not available yet when I was listing my options of internship, and I had to make another choice. However, mid-way through the selection process, this opening came up and I instantly applied. After an interview process, here I am.
How did you feel when you got the internship?
I was so excited! This is extra special to me, since I am the first intern with Marine Life Park to come to the Subic Bay facility and be able to work with people who have been in this field for years and have gathered a wealth of experience.
What was your first impression of the facility?
The facility was very organized and well managed, and the location and scenery was amazing. Most importantly, the people were very welcoming and approachable.
What goes on in a typical day for you at Subic Bay?
I do laboratory work that range from cytologies of fecal, gastric and blowhole samples to blood analysis of the dolphins. Water quality measurements are also taken on a regular basis and I assist the veterinarian in his work, such as monitoring of dolphin behaviour, and more.
I also get to observe the marine mammal specialists when they go about their tasks, like fish prepping and sorting, as well as during bonding exercises.
How do you find the marine mammal specialist?
The trainers are very friendly and approachable. We may all come from different backgrounds, countries and cultures, but it is like a small family here. When I had any doubts or questions on the dolphins, they were able to answer my queries, on topics ranging from dolphin behavior, anatomy and other facts that most of us are unaware of.
Did you conduct actual lab tests? If yes, can you let us know what kind of tests you conducted?
Yes. The vets recently did quarterly assessments of the dolphins and we had various samples to run. These included serum analysis, and cytologies of fecal, gastric and blowhole samples. We also do water quality checks weekly.
What has your internship taught you so far?
It has improved many of the skills I learned during my course in school by allowing me to practice these skills in a hands-on and realistic situation. These include cytology and blood techniques as well as observation and recording skills.
This internship has also taught me many new things, especially about dolphins and cetaceans- their anatomy and physiology, health, behaviors and so much more.
Before this internship, I’ve often wondered how Marine Life Parks ran their operations and I am happy to have had a sneak peek into the process, of how they run the operations to ensure the dolphin’s health and safety.
Besides learning these academic related skills, I also learnt to work with people from different parts of the world, to come together as a team.
Lastly, I’d like to add that this internship has indeed been an opportunity of a lifetime and I cannot imagine myself choosing another internship placement other than Marine Life Park. I have learned a lot and am still learning so much more. Given the chance to continue, I would definitely love to.