As we approach the end of 2015 and we prepare to make the best of 2016, I think it’s always a good time to look back on these 12 months. Like it has been for the last couple of years, there was one theme dominating my work this year: shark research.
2015 started off with the best shark research/diving trip in the world: great Hammerheads, bull sharks, nurse sharks and Caribbean reef sharks of Bimini. Right now I realize that I launched this website only a couple of months ago so there is no article on that trip (yet), but since I keep looking at my hammerhead photos from that trip, I’ll write something up in the (near) future. I was asked to join the trip organized by friend and colleague Dr. Craig O’Connell (O’Seas Conservation Foundation) who I met in 2013 when we conducting different projects on white sharks in Gansbaai, South Africa. We worked with the most awesome crew, made a documentary on hammerheads, went to see and dive with the most amazing sharks and stayed in a beautiful house on South-Bimini (a.k.a. paradise). But most importantly: we conducted two valuable scientific studies on bull sharks and Caribbean reef sharks (Marcella Uchoa MSc. project), and laser photogrammetry and dorsal fin ID on great hammerheads (Craig and myself). But more on the Bahamian shark paradise in a future article!
As soon as I got back from 7 weeks Bimini, I had to continue with some courses for my MSc. degree and had to come up with a research proposal for a Master thesis. Working through summer on a part-time job (no highlight…) and writing up a research proposal made sure my next project was ready to kick-off: studying the spatiotemporal distribution and diurnal patterns of Caribbean reef sharks and nurse sharks off Saba (Dutch Caribbean). I just returned from this trip, as you can read in my trip reports of Saba and the Saba Bank, St. Maarten and Statia.
In addition to these two research trips and studying for my MSc. Marine Biology, 2015 was a great year in numbers. In 2015 I:
- Published three articles: 2 scientific articles (1 published, 1 accepted) and 1 in a magazine for the Institute of Dutch Biologists (NIBI).
Leurs, G., O’Connell, C. P., Andreotti, S., Rutzen, M., & Vonk Noordegraaf, H. (2015). Risks and advantages of using surface laser photogrammetry on free-ranging marine organisms: a case study on white sharks Carcharodon carcharias. Journal of Fish Biology, 86(6), 1713–1728. doi:10.1111/jfb.12678
O’Connell C.P. & Leurs, G. (ACCEPTED). A novel and minimally invasive technique to assess several life-history characteristics of the endangered great hammerhead shark, Sphyrna mokarran. Journal of Fish Biology. Post Scriptum: Haaiengroei vastleggen met lasercamera (Dutch). Bionieuws (NIBI). Interviewer: Janneke Razenberg. Read online.
- Published one of my Great Hammerhead photographs in the new book ‘Aarde op 1‘ of the Dutch World Wildlife Fund (WWF/WNF).
- Assisted in the making of “Hunting the Hammerhead” by Earth Touch and Smithsonian, which will premiere in 2016.
- Two new shark species: great hammerhead (Sphyrna mokarran) and the blacknose shark (Carcharhinus acronotus).
- Caught and tagged: 5 Caribbean reef sharks and 1 nurse shark.
- Visited 4 new Caribbean islands.
- Spent countless hours behind a computer..
- Met and worked with the most inspiring people!
Goals and resolutions for 2016.
(Not a big fan of new year resolutions, but when it comes to studying and work, I always make lists..)
- Finish my MSc. Marine Biology
- Plan next projects or trips (Aussie?!).
- Publish at least one more paper before the end of my MSc.
- Dive with at least one new species of elasmobranch.
- Visit extremely beautiful places with the best people in the world!
Thank you to everyone who was part of 2015, you are awesome!