Hard work and dedication pays off
The taxonomists hard at work processing samples in the lab. Image: Gary Cranitch
Tuesday 24 November 2009
What do you imagine is a typical day for a marine biologist out in the field?
On Heron Island, the expeditioners wake up at the crack of dawn to prepare for their morning dives. Convening at the boat shed, the gear is packed and the boats lowered into the water before they set off for the morning's location, whether it be Sykes Reef, Wistari Reef, the channel, or some other location.
After a morning spent diving to collect samples the boats return in time for lunch, sometimes quite a late lunch. Then it's back to the lab where the eager group of taxonomists spends their afternoon sorting and processing the samples.
Field work of this nature is a rare opportunity for most, who work late into the night to ensure they don't fall behind in their processing.
Senior Principal Research Scientist at the Australian Museum in Sydney, Pat Hutchings, said her time on the island with co-worker Postdoctoral Researcher Maria Capa was short so they intended to make the most of it.
"Our strategy was to work long and hard for as long as we could," Pat said.
So too was the strategy of Florida Museum of Natural History PhD student Seabird McKeon.
"These opportunities are rare so we make the most of it," he said.
But it's not all work and no play.
Rob Lasley snorkels for samples. Image: Gary Cranitch
University of California scientist Laetitia Plaisance, who is based at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, said she enjoyed the friendly atmosphere of the CReefs Australia trips as the team talked freely about their work.
The friendly nature of the CReefs Australia team even extends to sharing samples and helping their fellow taxonomists search for species during dives.