Field Update #5: Outreach and Education
The first season of field work is coming to a close as I head home for the holidays in a couple days.
I can't thank you enough for your continued support and I hope that you have felt included in this process since joining our team. Without you, I can safely say that this research and the countless experiential learning opportunities that have resulted would not have been possible.
Thankfully we're in a great place moving forward, and I'm very happy with what we've accomplished so far. My hope is that this post provides a sort of end-of-year report on the outreach and education we have been conducting since August as an important facet of our research.
The past few weeks have been focused on this semester's Island School research class, and the students did a fantastic job. They prepared a wonderful presentation for Parent's Weekend, created an outreach booth and poster session for the Research Symposium, and then graduated all in the span of an eventful five weeks.
I would like to publicly thank those six students who became valuable members of our team over the past few months. They evolved into our data recorders, line coilers, photographers, boat captains, and shark handlers after countless hours in the field, often in rough conditions, without giving in to the stressful and at times chaotic nature of our research. Their contributions were much appreciated and they will be missed!
Their research poster will be published in the coming months, and I'll be sure to post it in a future blog post as it is the most comprehensive overview of our work and findings to date. For now, I would like to share a methods diagram designed by our team and created by Read Frost, a seriously talented former student of mine that is available for this kind of work upon request (message me and I'll pass along his details if you're interested):
We have also had the opportunity to take out a number of Educational Programs during their visit to the Cape Eleuthera Institute. Overall, we've included over 120 visiting students in our field research since August, and have many more planned for the spring season including Monmouth University and the University of Exeter in early January. These students experience a range of involvement as assistants on the boat or observers in the water, and always come away with a greater appreciation for small deep sea sharks and a better understanding of fisheries bycatch. They also receive a short presentation about our work the night before a field excursion or shortly before hauling the longline.
This research has also provided learning opportunities for a team of four interns and one gap year student on top of previous summer interns here at the Cape Eleuthera Institute. Coiling a total of over 15 miles of rope into a 55 gallon drum in rough seas (Alp Gokgoz), analyzing blood with a steady hand during a chaotic haul (Kat Ontiveros), driving the boat with lines and people surrounding the vessel (Chris Seslar), painstakingly cleaning and creating our educational jaw collection (Kaylie Durglo), and taking an entire page of data in just a few minutes while being constantly and concurrently shouted at (John Mitchell) are just a few of the daily demands that they've faced... overall these guys have been heavily relied on and were an integral part of our success.
With that, I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year, and I look forward to getting back to work in early January. Keep an eye out for a post with a link to this semester's research poster, and let me know if you have any questions.