BHP employees engage with the Reef
David Vize doing some underwater camera work. Image: Gary Granitch
Monday 8 September 2008
IF DAVID Vize and Michelle Vardy weren't here on a tropical island, they'd be back in the office at meetings.
It's a hard life, but someone has to do it.
Both came to Heron Island as part of the BHP Billiton Employee Engagement Program, which sends two employees on each of the CReefs expeditions so that they can experience scientific field-work first hand.
BHP Billiton is the major sponsor of the CReefs Australia expeditions.
Michelle works in Iron Ore in Perth's head office, while David works at the Ravensthorpe Nickel Operation in Western Australia.
David did extra diving training to make sure he was able to join the divers on this trip, while Michelle spent a lot of time snorkelling.
Both said the trip was "absolutely" worth going on.
"It's exceeded my expectations," David said.
"As a volunteer I thought I might get a little bit of diving, probably drudge work, maybe washing dishes."
Michelle Vardy on Heron Island. Image: Angus Livingston
Instead, both David and Michelle got stuck into the field work and sample collection, as well as helping out in the lab.
For Michelle, who has degrees in marine science and environmental management, the chance to do some practical work in her field of expertise was "really inspiring".
"I'm learning from everyone here. They've got so much knowledge about what's down there and they're all so passionate about it," she said.
David said on the expedition he'd done "loads of diving", smashed rocks looking for worms, done sample preparation of soft corals, and also provided entertainment for the troops.
As well as teaching salsa dancing and ukulele playing, David's balloon animal lessons proved a big hit with the scientists and assorted staff on the expedition.
"Everyone got into that in a really big way," a surprised David said.
Both David and Michelle said they would go home with a better understanding of what goes on underwater.
"I'll have a completely different perspective on it [being underwater]. It'll change what it is I look for when I'm diving," David said.
Michelle said her team in Perth was very interested in the project and was keen to find out more about the work being done.
"It's good to know BHP is doing projects like this that are making a difference," she said.