Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research


David Curnick's PhD Blog

by David Curnick

October was certainly a busy month. At the beginning on the month I was invited by the Bertarelli Foundation and Zoological Society of London (ZSL) to attend a workshop in Geneva on monitoring megafauna in the Chagos Marine Reserve. Given that my PhD focuses on the efficacy of marine reserves for large pelagic predators like tuna and sharks, this workshop gave me an excellent opportunity to get up to speed on the latest methods and technologies being used to monitor these elusive species. I found myself in the company of many researchers whose publications I had spent the first year of my PhD reading. Attendees included Professor Barbara Block (leader of the Tagging of Pacific Predators Programme), Professor Jessica Meeuwig (of the Centre for Marine Futures at University of Western Australia) and representatives from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.  The workshop also gave me the opportunity to enjoy the sights of Geneva, including a behind the scenes tour of CERN, all thanks to the ridiculously efficient tram network.

Megafauna Event

Attendees of the conservation of megafauna event, Geneva ©David Curnick

After 5 days of discussing tuna and sharks (punctuated by fondue in novelty restaurants reminiscent of the Sound of Music), I left Geneva at a very anti-social hour in the morning and headed straight from the airport to ZSL for the first meeting of the IUCN Mangrove Specialist Group. Needless to say I was late. However, after wrestling my bags off the conveyer belt and hurtling across central London, I did make it in time for the first coffee break and it was much needed. We chewed the mangrove cud for the next two days which culminated in an afternoon tour of Kew Gardens courtesy of Dr Colin Clubbe. Naturally the group gravitated towards the mangroves. I don’t think those three plants have ever had quite so much focused attention before. 

Mangroves at Kew Gardens

Dr Colin Clubbe shows off Kew Garden’s collection of mangroves ©David Curnick

The following week I found myself packing my bags yet again to head off to Marseille for the 3rd International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC3). I presented aspects of my work through both a poster and a presentation on the uses of camera trapping in the marine realm. The talk was well received and a number of potential collaborative opportunities arose as a result. It was my first large congress and the number of parallel sessions often left me torn between two or three choices. Luckily I was not alone and between myself and the rest of the ZSL contingent, we managed to attend all the relevant presentations. In the evening we would share experiences and notes from our respective days. Naturally this was best undertaken whilst sampling some of France’s famous wine and cheese (…although none of us were brave enough to choose the inescapable grandmother).

David Curnick at IMPAC3 Lost in translation
Giving a presentation during one of the many parallel sessions at IMPAC3 ©Heather Koldewey There was a slight translation issue on the menu.

So as you can see, my October was rather busy. Oh, and I bought a house too.