From 27th November through to 1st December, the SAERI Team had the pleasure of hosting Ryan Smith and Eleanor Perry from the Falkland Islands Community School (FICS) who seized the opportunity to undergo their Year 10 Work Experience week with us.
During the week, Ryan and Eleanor had the opportunity to work in all areas of SAERI, starting either with SCUBA divers PhD student Amy Guest and Dr Paul Brewin on seafloor animals, or with PhD student Rhian Taylor on zooplankton, and swapped the next day. Ryan and Eleanor helped the seafloor team with adding information to underwater photos, leaning how to recognise benthic marine life such as sponges, starfish, algae, crabs, anemones, sea cucumbers and more, and gained Photo ID skills and experience in using PhotoQuad. Amy also explained the aims of her PhD: Sub-tidal Ecology and Biogeography of the Falkland Islands, and showed them the wonders of the Falklands shallow marine life.
PhD student Rhian Taylor introduced Ryan and Eleanor to her PhD - Investigating/Quantifying the role of coastal ichthyoplankton and zooplankton to the ecosystem function of the Falkland Islands marine environment. Working with microscopes, the two young scientists assisted with the processing of zooplankton samples – which included sorting, counting, and weighing animals within these samples.
Continuing on, the students worked with Project Manager Dr Siobhan Vye, creating an outreach poster for cruise ships on marine invasive species and biosecurity, and learning about her project: Improving risk understanding and protocols for inspection of vessels to mitigate the spread of marine non-native species to South Georgia & South Sandwich Islands.
The students returned to Rhian, who taught them the detective work that goes into determining the species from a genetic code, using complex models and online databases.
Then came the Field Day! Ryan and Eleanor joined PhD student Alix Kristiansen and Heather Mathews to learn about Alix’s PhD - Ecology of the Falkland Steamer Duck -, which included some bird watching: checking the breeding status of the steamer ducks around Stanley, and photographing them.
Finishing off the week the students joined Chris Bean, our GIS and Data Specialist (Darwin Local project), working through a training pack to help them develop their understanding of climate change, agriculture, and how this can affect the Falkland Islands. By the end of the day, they had both designed and printed two fantastic maps of projected and historic climate change data in the Falkland Islands.
We thoroughly enjoyed having Ryan and Eleanor with us, and hoped they enjoyed and learnt a lot being from the team!
Below are Ryan and Eleanor’s Blog post from the week:
This last week I have been on work experience at SAERI form 27/11/2023 to 01/12/2023.
In this week, I have really enjoyed the fieldwork with the Tachyeres brachypterus (Falkland Island steamer duck) project with Alix and Heather looking at the tracks of the steamer duck at the different times of day. For instance, we downloaded data from a nesting duck on the north side of the harbour she sits on the nest for the day and late at night, she adventured out into the harbour, which we assume to go feed on crustacean and molluscs. On Thursday, we went to our monitoring area around gypsy cove and Hadassa bay as well as the northeast side of the harbour around Lady Liz. On this trip, we collected many objects such as scats (duck poo), duck eggshell as well as feathers.
The reason I chose SAERI as my work Experience is because of the crest award trip in year 7 to surf bay and the rock beach I loved looking in the quadrats at the intertidal organisms and have been in love with marine biology ever since.
I would love to go to college and university overseas to embark on a feather education at Richard Hewish and haven’t decide on a university yet in zoology and marine biology before coming back home and working as a Marine scientist for SAERI.
Throughout this week, I have done a lot of different projects in different areas of biology such as zooplankton on Monday, photo ID on Tuesday, looking at invasive species on vessels and barcoding on Wednesday, Tachyeres brachypterus (Falkland island steamer duck) studies on Thursday and finishing with mapping out climate change on Friday. I had a lot of fun doing these projects with a variety of lovely people and enjoyed working with them all - but it is now back to school for me.
This week I have been on work experience. I enjoyed working at SAERI; I think it was a great opportunity.
On Monday I really enjoyed doing photo ID, it was an amazing experience and it was fun trying to find all the sea creatures and trying to identify them, I found it a bit difficult to identify them but it was still fun.
On Tuesday, I went to the lab, which was also really fun. I liked looking through the microscope at all the Elzooplankton such as different types of prawns and arrow worms. Trying to separate them into groups was a bit challenging but I enjoyed it.
On Wednesday morning, we had to make a poster about invasive species and why it’s important to keep the hull of your boat clean to help reduce the transportation of invasive species, which I also found really fun. In the afternoon, we did barcoding and making trees to find out the species.
On Thursday, we went to Fortuna to download data from a Steamer duck and then we went on a trip from Yorke Bay to Gypsy Cove to Hadassa Bay to the Lady Liz to find Steamer ducks. This was my favourite thing we did. We found quite a few ducks and an angry goose, we had to collect scats and I got to take photos of them.
On Friday, we learnt how to use GIS to create maps, and we made maps about climate change in the Falklands in the past and future, which was very enjoyable.
I chose to come to SAERI because I love the sea and I’m curious to learn more and I’d like to know what it’s like working with sea creatures because I’d like to go to college and university to study marine biology and it would be a huge help when I’m applying for a job.