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Shelley Dawicki
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shelley.dawicki@noaa.govshelley.dawicki@noaa.gov

August 25, 2008
RESEARCH COMMUNICATIONS
166 Water Street
Woods Hole MA 02543

Danielle Spencer (Oakland, Calif.)

Danielle feeds seal
enlarge image
Spencer rewards blind harbor seal Bumper with a fish during a training routine in the Aquarium's outdoor seal pool. (Credit: Woods Hole Science Aquarium/NOAA)
Spencer poses with Lavender, an endangered Kemp's Ridley turtle, during a routine medical check. The marine turtle spent part of its rehabilitation at the Woods Hole Science Aquarium before being released in July 2008, equipped with a satellite tag on its back for tracking. (Credit: Woods Hole Science Aquarium/NOAA)
Related Links
Woods Hole Science Aquarium
Bradford E. Brown Student Internship Program

Danielle Spencer, a junior at Oakland Emiliano Zapata Street Academy in Oakland, Calif., learned about the Woods Hole Science Aquarium’s Careers in Marine Science Seminar program from the American Indian Child Resource Center in Oakland and applied, encouraged by a recent lecture in oceanography she had attended at a nearby college.

“This experience has given me many ideas about what I could do with a degree in marine biology,” she said of the program. “I have a much better idea about what is involved. I really liked being outside on collecting trips and visiting other facilities that care for and train animals. It was much better than I expected, and it was fun!”

Feeding fish, training two harbor seals, cleaning tanks, leading shoreside collecting trips for the public, and helping children and adults learn about marine animals at the touch tanks were all part of her daily routine. She also attended career lectures, visited other nearby marine science facilities, and enjoyed meeting and working with the other students.

Although Spencer lives in a city and had not been involved in any marine science programs before, she was eager to try something new. Born and raised in East Oakland, Spencer says she has been interested in marine biology since she was 12, when she spent the summer with an aunt who teaches Native American studies in Hawaii.

Spencer participated in the Woods Hole Science Aquarium’s two-week Careers in Marine Science Seminar July 21 to August 1, along with seven other high school students from Utah, New York and Massachusetts and three summer college student interns. Several seminar students, including Spencer, stayed on as interns for an additional one to two weeks to help with animal husbandry and to serve as junior naturalists on collecting walks.

The group was kept busy during the day, and enjoyed many activities together at night and on weekends, from playing soccer and seeing the latest Batman film at the local theater to a bonfire on the beach. They even spent a “Night at the Aquarium,” eating pizza, playing games and sleeping on the conference room floor. “I even got to see bioluminescence for the first time when we went swimming one night.”

Once back at the Oakland Emiliano Zapata Street Academy, Spencer will resume classes and involvement in Oakland’s Native American community. Of Navajo and Laguna Pueblo heritage, she spends time after school at the American Indian Resource Center tutoring younger students, sharing her heritage and what she has learned, and helping them deal with problems facing Native American youth.

Spencer’s favorite experience at the WHSA this summer: “everything.  I learned hands-on what it is like to care for sea animals, to begin to understand the way they live and the importance of maintaining where they live. It was exactly what I had hoped it would be.”

 And the future?  Spencer says she plans to pursue a career in marine science at the University of Hawaii, and one day create a sanctuary for endangered or injured sea animals.

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(File Modified Jun. 03 2016)