The weeks have been flying by with adjusting to biking everyday and attending various lectures and practicals. I have really been enjoying the dynamics of teaching styles here. Most interesting to me in my two conservation-focused courses, where I have been learning about the numerous viewpoints you have to consider when developing conservation management plans. To my surprise, I have apparently been thinking about management only from the aesthetic value viewpoint: “save everything!!” and not so much how realistically economical or political views are essential as well. Questions about flagship species (i.e. sea turtles, dolphins, whales) are hot topics. Are they really ecological important or just hold intrinsic value because we think they are cute? What about genetically unique species that essentially aren’t really useful for human purposes, are they worth conserving? Heated debates in lectures and tutorials always revert back to how economics more than often skew the ethics of protecting every plant and every animal. For example, how do you convince politicians and developers to not develop an area that will boost a developing nation’s economy by providing jobs, but will consequently cause a species to go extinct? It is really difficult concepts to grasp, but it definitely is opening my eyes to the broader impacts of conservation efforts.
Over the weekend, the Fisheries Science course took a field trip on the Research Vessel James Kirby to Cleveland Bay for the Bycatch Reduction practical. The objective was to observe how efficient bycatch reduction devices are. We used two otter trawls and targeted penaeid shrimp,but we caught so much more! It was a really good experience, just learning and actually seeing the different species. We even had a couple of sea snakes and sharks come on board!
I also finally made it to a rugby game!!! Townsville Cowboys vs New Zealand Warriors at the 1300 Smiles Stadium. The game opened up with the Australian national anthem and a traditional Aboriginal dance. Although the Cowboys came up a few points short, you can tell they played with heart!! Automatically I compared rugby to American football because I cheered many years on the sidelines for football, but after witnessing a real game, I realize the huge differences! Tackling without protective pads, you have to have heart to play rugby! I recorded some parts of the game and made a short video just to show some of my friends back home what the sport is all about https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6EnHaAhEBI.
Best Wishes to everyone,