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Laeeqa Khan

2023 intern

From a friendship with an octopus to swimming the Midmar Mile, Laeeqa has always considered the water her second home despite growing up in the landlocked city of Johannesburg. Now she is swimming in the right direction to further her life’s passion.

With an Honours in Marine Biology from the University of Cape Town, Laeeqa has joined the Two Oceans Aquarium for an internship in which she will assist with wildlife management, research and environmental education.

What are you passionate about?

The ocean is where life started, and it holds the key to our undiscovered knowledge of our ever-changing planet. My passion stemmed from my deep love for the beautiful mosaic coral reefs and my favourite intelligent species, the octopus.

What inspired your choice of study?

Ever since I was little, I have been fascinated by being in the water. A trip to the Two Oceans Aquarium at age six also augmented my love of the marine world. After spending the day there, I told my parents, “When I grow up, I am going to be a marine biologist and I am going to work at the Two Oceans Aquarium.” Even growing up in Johannesburg, far from the ocean, did not stop me and in fact fuelled my passion.

What excites you about your internship?

This internship is a dream come true. I am excited to be part of the organisation’s future objectives of protecting our oceans through conservation, awareness, research and education. From working with penguins to treating turtle hatchlings, this internship offers me experiential learning. I also love that I am involved in several departments at the aquarium.

What are your expectations of this internship?

I am eager to gain new skills and knowledge to inform my future research and success. I am hopeful that in aligning myself with like-minded people, who share my drive to protect our oceans and marine life, I can play a significant role.

What contribution do you hope to make towards a future in which people and nature thrive?

As a young marine biologist in this advanced technological era, I can utilise technology in ways that past science has not yet explored. My goal is to protect the ocean and its inhabitants for future generations. The sea provides food and a home for fauna and flora and is also a significant source of income for many people. I am confident I can help find ways for people and nature to co-exist harmoniously – this is my life-long ambition. As Sylvia Earle once said, “No water, no life. No blue, no green.”

Who inspires you most and why?

My biggest inspiration is Sylvia Earle, an American marine biologist and environmentalist who formed an organisation called Mission Blue that embodies all my aspirations for conserving our oceans. I am also inspired by my parents, who have taught me to constantly persevere and fight for what I believe in. They have raised me to be a strong, confident and independent woman. Lastly, I am inspired by my grandparents, my biggest supporters on my journey to becoming a marine biologist.

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