The importance of being able to present science
As Marine Dynamics Academy scientific interns we are given as many opportunities as possible to work on our presenting skills. With Thursday being a no sea day, we were given just such an opportunity and we each gave presentations to the volunteers currently here in Gansbaai with us as part of the International Marine Volunteer program. I gave a presentation about my thesis for my undergraduate degree in Ecology & Environmental Biology from the University of Leeds.
My thesis was entitled ‘The morphological variations in the three snake species native to the United Kingdom’. In this I discussed the potential Batesian mimicry of the aposematic markings of the venomous Adder by the non-venomous Grass snake and also why the two Adder morphs (melanic and normal (white, with a dark zigzag stripe)) persist in the UK. Emma presented about the reintroduction of Wolves into Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, USA and Danielle talked about her recent involvement in a Cetacean research programme in the Adriatic Sea.
All presentations were well received and comments from the volunteers such as “great presentations guys, very informative” mean we are all heading in the right direction with our presentation skills; thanks in no part to the opportunities given to us as part of this internship.
On Thursday evening we were given a masterclass on how to present your scientific research by the world renowned and highly respected senior marine biologist here at Marine Dynamics, Alison Towner. Over a brew, and with Alison’s highly excitable new puppy in the room, we received a presentation about the acoustic tagging work that Alison has undertaken since joining Marine Dynamics in 2007. Once the acoustic tag is attached to a pre-determined shark, and with the use of a hydrophone, a vast amount of data can be collected about the sharks fine scale movements by tracking it through the Dyer Island area.
From the data collected, Alison has been able to publish multiple papers; including the first population estimate of the number of Great White sharks that frequent the Dyer Island area (approximately 800-1000) and Alison is currently using the data to aid in her PhD research. A massive thank you goes to Alison for taking the time out of her busy schedule to educate myself and the fellow interns on such a vital scientific skill.