Train with the Shark & Marine Research Institute
Do you want to get hands on with sharks in South Africa?
I am delighted to be collaborating with the Shark & Marine Research Institute to offer an experience with a reputable conservation focused non-profit organisation offering an excellent ethical experience:
- Be trained as a marine research assistant, interact with sharks and gain essential research skills for your future career!
- Contribute towards meaningful research projects working towards protecting sharks in South Africa;
- Whether you are a Student, Post-Graduate, Passionate Conservationist or All-round Shark Enthusiast you are all encouraged to apply!
You will be involved in the following projects:
- A study to understand more about great white shark behaviour;
- A dorsal fin identification project to monitor the diminishing great white shark population;
- Collection of baseline data on abundance, diversity and habitat use of other shark and ray species.
You will learn how to:
- Record white shark monitoring data;
- Take dorsal fin identification photos and how to analyse those photos;
- Ethical handling and angling of sharks, including measurement, tagging and taking genetic samples.
Daily activities include trips on the cage diving tourist boat, trips on the research vessel, snorkeling, shore surveys, lectures, data analysis, video editing, photo editing, beach clean ups, lessons with the local school, excursions and more.
Volunteers will gain a considerable amount of sea experience as well as some valuable skills in the field, both on the cage diving boat and the dedicated research vessel.
To register your interest please drop me an email at: email@example.com
Single Use Plastics
An estimated 75% of all the litter in our Oceans is plastic, with a reported 5 million tonnes of plastic waste entering the seas annually. Some plastics are essential, you only need to go into your local doctors or hospital to see how useful plastic as a product actually is. However, what does need to be addressed is our reliance on unnecessary single use plastics as well as the entire system that is responsible for these plastics, including the demand, the production process and the recycling process.
Linear systems, whereby packaging products have a limited life span and go directly to landfill are no longer appropriate. Instead change needs to be sought, to either eliminate non-essential products or ensure these products are effectively recycled and re-used, turning the system into a circular one.
This task is not a simple one! Take food packaging for example, if SUP was completely eliminated overnight there would be a huge increase in food waste because the enclosed environment of the packaging increases the produces shelf life, if instead the type of packaging were changed say to a paper based source, we then have to consider whether this is a viable environmental option for all supermarkets to introduce. Where would the wood be sourced? Is it sustainable? Would habitats have to be destroyed for this supply & demand? and so on.
There are however practical and instant changes you can make in your life that can & will make a difference:
- purchase a good quality re-usable water bottle
- purchase a good quality re-usable coffee cup
- re-usable shopping bags
- shop local & support local businesses where possible
- support organisations that are putting pressure on governments to push for real change
- keep up to date with the latest information
- increase awareness by talking about environmental issues with friends & family
Just remember to keep the bigger picture in mind, think about how everything is connected, keep the pressure on the system & fight for change!
Take part in a Beach Clean
I have been a regional representative for the charity Surfers Against Sewage since 2012, one of my main responsibilities in this role is to organize and partake in beach cleans, the fantastic thing about beach cleans is that it allows you to make a direct difference whilst raising awareness about the bigger issue. Whilst waste management action plans are being addressed, marine litter is still entering our Oceans, and will continue to do so for some time no matter how quickly new waste systems are introduced.
Going out and removing that litter from the beach particularly those items which pose a direct threat to wildlife via entanglement, is a direct approach that will benefit your local area immediately. It is also an effective way of conducting hands on education and outreach to the wider public. If you would like to take part in a beach clean check out organisations such as Surfers Against Sewage, Marine Conservation Society and Sea Shepherd. All of these run beach cleans periodically throughout the year and will be delighted to welcome new volunteers!
If you would like to organize and run a beach (or river) clean in your local area then check out the following step by step guide on the SAS website: https://www.sas.org.uk/our-work/beach-cleans/organise-beach-clean/
Therafish UK is a voluntary community initiative which i also run in my spare time. It aim’s to set-up fish tanks in the communal areas of care homes and hospices free of charge, the project relies on all equipment and fish being donated by hobbyists looking to re-home their fish and gear for various reasons.
My idea for this initiative came about as a direct result of interacting with visitors when i worked at Macduff Marine Aquarium, located on the Moray Firth this aquarium showcases native species from surrounding Scottish coastal waters. We would often get groups visiting from nearby sheltered housing organisations and it always struck me how much enjoyment individuals got from watching the fish in the tanks. Chatting with people was always interesting, and many would comment on how calming and relaxing they found the experience. I started to think about the people who were unable to take part in such visit’s and whether they would benefit from an aquarium experience – all be it on a much smaller scale, which they could see every day.
I began to research the scientific studies that had been conducted to investigate the relationship between the presence of fish tanks in communal dining areas as a form of Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT), in relation to weight gain and nutritional uptake in residents diagnosed with Dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease and psychiatric disorders. Results from various studies were fascinating, those suffering with the aforementioned diseases typically showed a reduction in weight upon permanently residing in residential care. However upon the introduction of a fish tank, residents weight gain and nutritional uptake improved to the extent that daily supplements could be reduced. This improvement continued with the long term presence of the tank.
These remarkable changes occurred due to the effect that the presence of a tank had on people’s behaviour, in one particular study which focused on those with Alzheimer’s Disease (Edwards & Beck 2002, Journal of Nursing Research) staff members observed that individuals with a history of pacing and wandering sat for longer periods observing the aquarium, this additional time leading to increased time spent eating. Individuals who tended to be lethargic were more attentive and awake in the presence of the aquarium, again allowing greater food consumption.
So, with all of this in mind when an opportunity arose in the summer of 2017, to over-see the transportation on-shore of some tropical cichlids that had been residing in a tank on an oil-rig that was currently being decommissioned out in the North Sea. I leapt at the chance and also inquired about the re-homing plan for these fish, and so it was that these well traveled fish became the first donation to the Therafish UK project!
This first tank went to Ruthrieston House in Aberdeen, since then i have been able to install two other aquariums; one at Crosby House and one at Kingsmead, also both in Aberdeen. I no longer live in the Aberdeen area, however my projects are continuing, currently on the West Coast of Scotland. You can keep up to date with all of the Therafish UK projects via my facebook page @TheraFishUK and if you would like to donate any fish or equipment feel free to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org