Saturday, August 22, 2009

A New Season Dawns

As we pass the middle of August a new whale shark monitoring season is upon us once again and our 2009 monitoring team is assembling over this weekend.

As with every year there will be some new faces and some familiar ones and over the next few weeks we will try and introduce each of the interns to you and get them to give you an interns view on life in the MCSS whale shark programme!

Joining lead researcher Dr. David Rowat this season are our two team leaders Katie Brooks and Luke Riley, who are becoming old hands at the monitoring programme and micro-light pilot Johan Anderson.

This is Katie’s fourth season with us in the Seychelles and she has also worked a whale shark season on the programme in Exmouth, Western Australia at Ningaloo Reef and survived the mayhem of this January’s Djibouti expedition. Katie will however be leaving us early this season as she is going to go back to University to do her Masters degree, so we wish her lots of sharks before she goes back!

This is Luke’s second year as a Team Leader with us although he previously lived and worked in the Seychelles for over a year with Global Vision International as a volunteer co-ordinator and was also involved in the 2007 MCSS Whale Shark Programme. Luke is also a veteran whale sharker as he spends the Australian whale shark season working in Coral Bay and like Katie he survived the onslaught of the Djibouti hoards this January.

Johan is our regular micro-light aficionado and this is now his seventh season searching for spotty sharks around Seychelles. This season he is flying without a second pilot as our other regular wasn’t able to come so we are hoping for light winds and calm seas to make Johan’s life a bit easier!

New or nearly new faces this season will be Abi March, a teacher from Cheshire, England; Ciara McCarten a BSc student from Berkshire, England; Dominique Rhoades a wildlife photographer from Bedfordshire, England; Gareth Jeffreys a BSc student from Aberystwyth, Wales; John Swenson an ecology graduate from Washington USA; and last but not least Victoria Kentner a field biologist from Pennsylvania, USA…

So right now as the intern’s excitement builds David and the team leaders are contemplating all sorts of offerings in the hope of lots of large spotty fish over the coming ten weeks!