Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Interns Arrive

The last few weeks have been a bit hectic as September and the start of the whale shark season draws near..... The interns for the programme have all now arrived and are completing the first week of orientation and training. So before we get into the nitty-gritty its probably best to introduce this team of eight eager participants who in alphabetical order are:

Alex Taylor is a New Zealander although she is currently travelling the world and temporarily lives in the UK. With a background in Marine Science she was captivated by whale sharks after two failed attempts to see them at the Bay Islands, Honduras so she has big expectations of the Seychelles programme….

Anna Westling from Sweden: Anna is doing her MSc dissertation project on the effects of environmental parameters on the occurrence and abundance of whale sharks. As such she is going to be spending a lot of time running multilevel plankton tows and doing environmental monitoring with a conductivity-temperature-depth probe…. So she’s also going to be keeping the other interns pretty busy! Anna arrived a week early so she could get used to the equipment she is going to be using and has been giving the new plankton net a thorough talking to (see photo on the right)!

Carl Royle is from Manchester in the UK; he was a volunteer previously with the Global Vision International (GVI) project in Seychelles and had heard about the MCSS programme during a presentation given during his term there. With an MSc in Ecology Carl is hoping to broaden his experience further on this programme.

Francesca Compton is from Oxfordshire in the UK and like Carl was a GVI volunteer in Seychelles. Her background is in marine and freshwater biology and during a course at UMBSM in Millport she helped with the Basking Shark project (which David Rowat also assists) and so has certain affinities with whale sharks and Seychelles.

James Tutty is also from the UK and is another ex GVI volunteer; like Carl and Francesca he had seen the MCSS whale shark presentation and assisted in the plankton tows that GVI do for the programme but hadn’t had the chance to actually see a whale shark, so this was the logical next step!

Richard Berry and Sarah Colley are also from the UK; Richard had recently completed his MSc in Environmental Science while Sarah works as a project coordinator with young adults. They were taking a year off to travel and having seen whale sharks in Belize they had got the bug and applied for this programme while hiking through Japan’s National Parks!

Tomoko Morimoto is from Japan but has worked as a whale shark guide at Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia for four years and so is no stranger to whale sharks. Having seen visiting researchers like Brad Norman and Mark Meekan at work on their visits to Ningaloo she wanted to learn more about the sharks and get involved more directly in whale shark research, so Seychelles seemed like a good place to achieve her wishes.

Last but certainly not least, completing the monitoring team for the first part of this season is our micro-light pilot David Daniel. David hails from South Africa where he instructs microlight flying in both weight-shift (trike) and three axis (fixed wing) configurations with his own flying school in Natal. A very experienced pilot, David will be with us until the end of September when Johan Anderson rejoins us after his recovery from a hang-gliding accident.

So that’s the full team, they are all working away like mad this week but we will get them to start posting to the blog as they get settled in… all we need now are the sharks!

Meanwhile Luke seems as equally bemused by the new plankton net as Anna was!

No comments: