Thursday, 3 December 2015
I am Stephanie, the current research intern at HKDCS. I am an Environmental Science student majoring in Wildlife and Conservation Biology from Melbourne. I’ve been told that conservation is a challenging field, filled with obstacles, but aspiration to continue to learn and understand the fundamentals of this field. And the team at HKDCS have been doing and trying their best to conserve Chinese White Dolphins, which has inspired and enlightened me.
During my first week as an intern, I experienced all three typical days; boat survey, office day and land-based survey. I was amazed (and still am) at how the team spotted CWDs during boat surveys; even with the glare, the white caps at sea and distance. I strive to improve and make sightings like the team; with distance estimation, the group size and composition, photographing and identifying individuals from their dorsal fins and markings (Viena: IT’S HEI HEI ! IT’S HEI HEIIIIII !!!!). I have made two sightings and overjoyed of my progress! I finally saw and heard a finless porpoise surface last week 🙂 , they are super shy and hard to spot because of their dark grey bodies.
Office days are meant to be relaxing as fieldwork can be exhausting for the team. For me, it comprise of entering data of group composition and behaviour, making simple calculations, news clipping and going through readings to further my knowledge. The team do much more than that!
The houses we pass by in Tai O
Station at Shum Wat
The land-based survey at Shum Wat definitely pushes me out of my comfort zone. Waking up early, a bit of hiking, personal hygiene and no shelter for five, six hours. The theodolite tracking examines the effects the construction of the Hong Kong Zhuhai Macau Bridge has on the behaviours of CWDs. I search for CWDs with binoculars and assist the theodolite operator, usually Vincent or Taison. Last week Leon taught me how to fix the positions of a few travelling vessels. I am slightly worried as I have not seen any CWDs on both trips.
I feed off the team’s positivity and you can see how passionate each and every one of them are about conserving cetaceans, which pushes me to learn even more. It’s only been four weeks, I believe my Cantonese has improved, eaten multiple desserts with Viena, I am still ecstatic as an intern and at every sighting. I will never be bored of cetaceans.
Posted by Stephanie Cheng