April and May adventures

Golly. It’s a while since I last wrote a post on here! I feel like I’ve been here, there and everywhere in the past two months! What have I been up to? Quite a lot to be honest…

In early April I actually got out of the office to visit a couple of the fishermen I met in Barcelona at the GAP2 conference, to catch up and have a look around some of the places they fish from in the River Yealm area and in Salcombe. Such lovely scenery! I also went along to their monthly shellfish association meeting, which was really interesting and was good to find out a bit more about the fisheries operating in the south west region. Despite the meeting running till almost midnight (!) I had a really great day and it was nice to get out ‘into the field’ and learn a bit about the fisheries first hand, rather than sit in the office reading about them.

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After that trip and 2 not so exciting weeks in the office, I set off to visit Cefas (the Lowestoft lab) for a week. As Cefas is one of the partners on my project, I have to go there from time to time, so I decided to pay a visit and start making some contacts there. It was nice to spend some time with my supervisor and discuss ‘The Project’ a bit more with him and I found it a really useful week. I’ve actually been to Cefas before but I really like going there – it’s so nice to be around lots of other fisheries people and be able to pop down the hallway to go and chat to one of the top scientists in the field! My office view wasn’t too bad either, although watching the boats come and go was a bit distracting at times!

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It was also the student mini conference whilst I was there, so it was a good chance to meet others doing projects with Cefas and generally chat about fishy related work. You don’t get to see some of the students very often since we’re dispersed all round the country so was good to catch up with some people I rarely see! I also had a poster there to show people about my work, I didn’t feel quite ready yet to give a presentation…

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After Cefas I went to stay with my friend in Norwich for the weekend and we visited Horsey Beach. We were hoping to possibly spot a seal or two, but when we got there there were loads! I’ve never seen that many before, but there must have been at least 150. There were loads of babies too, which were really cute!

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After coming back to Exeter, I had a mad few days before repacking my bags again, this time to go to Italy! I went on a statistics course dedicated solely to Generalised Additive Models, which are the type of model that I’ll be using in my work to look at future changes to fish distributions and abundances. Not many people have really used GAMs in this sort of fisheries/climate change prediction work before but Louise Rutterford at the University of Exeter, who is in my research group, recently published some work in Nature Climate Change (!) on their application for predicting future distributions of demersal fish in the North Sea under future warming. It’s a great paper and you can check it out here. So, the idea for me is to build upon this work and tweak the model a bit and apply it to the south west of the UK with different species.

The course itself was run by Highland Statistics, and if any of you reading are thinking of going on a stats course then I would recommend them. Although some of the course went a little over my head (I’m not very mathsy at all) it was really informative with lots of useful resources and very knowledgeable teachers.

Being in Italy was awesome and there were a lot of fish themed things going on whilst I was there which was right up my street! I was in Genoa where they had a big Slow Fish festival on, which was great as I got to eat fresh, sustainable seafood everyday whilst I was on the course! I also visited a little fishing village called Camogli, and the day I was there they were having a big fish festival to wish for good fortune for the fishers for the year ahead. There was a great atmosphere there and there was a huge (apparently the world’s largest) frying pan frying up seafood for everyone. It was delicious! I also had a couple of days after the course visiting little fishing villages dotted along the coast with my friend which was really nice to just have a bit of a break from work.

I then flew straight from Italy to London, where I had a meeting with all of my supervisors and Lou and Bryony (the other PhD student in our research group who is based at Cefas). It was a good couple of days and was mostly talking about our current progress and potential new work ideas. It was so handy to have all my supervisors in the same room at the same time too – something which is pretty rare!

Given all this traveling around, I’ve actually not sat at my desk in Exeter for over a month! I have to admit when I came back on Tuesday this week it felt very odd! I’m glad I’m back now though as it’s tricky to get your teeth properly into your work when you’re all over the place, so I’m looking forward to getting some progress made on the first chapter of the project. That’s all for now, I’ll leave with some pictures of Italy!

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