I am back in my everyday routine in Germany: I wake up, have my morning coffee(s) and then head to the ZMT, where I spend the day in the laboratory. By now, I have finished all extractions, i.e. getting the DNA out of the shark fin clips I collected in the field in Fiji during my shark research project. We have already sent a few samples for sequencing and the results suggest we are talking about Carcharhinus limbatus, the common blacktip shark. Since all possible candidates only differ in a few basepairs on their COI (Cytochrom c Oxidase) gene, it is not as clear to determine the species as I would like to have it, but concerning the samples we sent in, I can say already say that it’s C. limbatus. Whether we are going to find another shark in the rest of the samples – who knows?
So besides preparing all the extractions for the PCRs and then for subsequent sequencing, I am right in the middle of my data analysis. I am looking at the different CPUEs per month (Catch per unit effort, i.e. how many sharks were caught on average during one hour of fishing), the umbilical scar conditions per months, average sizeclass and last but not least I am working on a model explaining the most important environmental parameters for the sharks similar to the Yates et. al (2015) methodology in his paper “Ecological drivers of shark distributions along a tropical coastline”.
By the end of the month the analysis should hopefully lie behind me and I can concentrate on the introduction and discussion section of my forthcoming master thesis.
The small but eager KELLNER & STOLL – STIFTUNG FÜR KLIMA UND UMWELT here in Bremen (that also helped me pull up my own crowdfunding campaign for my shark project) is currently seeking a fund provided by the Volksbank in Bremen. Basically all you have to do to support them is vote regularly on this website. You can do so every day until 29.08.2016 of August. Please remember, after you clicked on the green button “Abstimmen” (=vote) and entered your email address, you still have to confirm your vote but clicking the link sent to you via mail.
The foundation is run by a private couple concentrating on supplying funds for projects especially involved in all climate change related issues and also the health of our oceans, mainly towards master students. They have supported several projects of ISATEC (International Studies of Aquatic Tropical Ecosystems) in the last few years and eventually facilitated the one or other work that wouldn’t have come to life without them. Please take a few minutes every day and give them a vote, so that future students can receive monetary help too.
Good luck to them!
There is another thing I would like to write about, unfortunately it is very sad. Not even two weeks ago a very sad message reached me from Fiji. Kemueli, the headman of the village I lived and worked in and also my host for all these months has suddenly and unexpected passed away. Last Saturday he was laid to rest. Kemueli was a man, who always wanted the best for his family and village and worked hard for it. His personal commitment to my project always inspired and impressed me and if it wasn’t for him my project would never have happened. I needed him and he offered all the help he could give. Kemueli was not only living by the day but he never got tired of mentioning how important it is to leave a good ground for all future generations to come. He was worried about the already government approved dredging in the Ba river, which will start in less than a month and will last longer than 10 years. This dredging project of an Australian company might and probably will substantially impact not only the landscape of this untouched piece of earth but also the whole ecology in this river. Kemueli always hoped my work, once published, might help them to fight these plans and keep traditional fishing grounds the way they were. I have great respect for this man and what he has accomplished in life.
Rest in peace Kemueli.
Yates, Peter M.; Heupel, Michelle R.; Tobin, Andrew J.; Simpfendorfer, Colin A. (2015): Ecological drivers of shark distributions along a tropical coastline. In: PloS one 10 (4), e0121346. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0121346.
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Tom Vierus is an award-winning photographer, filmmaker, and marine biologist based in Suva, Fiji Islands. This blog is dedicated to his assignments and to sharing some behind-the-scenes footage.