Chiara Gambini – A Trip To Ho Chi Min – 12th November 2018
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Well, we had such an intense week. Two team members had the great chance to attend a 2-day workshop at the University of Science in Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam). The event was hosted by Mr. Long Vu and Dr.Cornelia Oedekoven, who came from the University of St.Andrews in Scotland. Mr.Long Vu is carrying out a project on the Irrawaddy dolphins (Orcaella brevirostris) in Kien Giang Biosphere Reserve (KGBR), the only location in Vietnam where Irrawaddy dolphins have recently been observed in their natural habitat. The project aims to provide critical baseline data on bycatch of Irrawaddy dolphin in KGBR. The specific objectives involve evaluating the magnitude of the Irrawaddy dolphin in KGBR, identifying areas that have high bycatch risk and to providing conservation recommendations to the management board of KGBR to mitigate bycatch risks. Given that the project is using distance sampling methodologies, Mr.Long Vu invited Dr.Cornelia Oedekoven, who is an expert in this field. The workshop started with an introduction to distance sampling: a statistical methodology that can provide data on Irrawaddy dolphin abundance. We were trained to use a specific software, called “Distance”, which allows scientists to build up a systematic distance sampling transect design to get a more representative area of the focal marine mammal species. At the end of the explanation we practised with some excercises, trying to figure out how everything looked like and what we could achieve through this method. On the second day, Dr.Cornelia Oedekoven introduced us to Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM). Through the use of PAM devices, scientists can estimate cetacean abundance. To this purpose, the workshop continued with an incredible conference call from Canada. Dr.Tom Norris, founder and chief scientist of Bio-Waves Company in Encinitas (San Diego), showed us one of the latest hydrophones designed. This hydrophone, named MicroMars, is being used in Mr.Long Vu’s research project. The workshop then came to an end. We really believe it was a great opportunity for knowledge exchange. Sharing ideas, concepts and problems with local and international scientists is always important. Our experience in Vietnam ended with a preliminary survey, looking for Irrawaddy Dolphins in Vietnam’s KGBR. Unfortunately, due to the rough conditions of the sea, we didn’t spotted any dolphins, but at least we could join Mr.Long Vu and his team on the survey, practising what we had learnt during the workshop.
The workshop was definitely an eye opening experience, and will hopefully lead to further collaborations between Mr Long Vu in the future. Even though the field research area always faces some issues, such as weather conditions, boats availability and financial constraints, we truly believe on the importance of studying this endangered species, in order to provide meaningful data to the Government to implement the legislation.
We would love to thank Mr.Long Vu for inviting us and for being such a great host during the whole trip. A special thank goes to Dr.Cornelia Oedekoven for her precious knowledge and science background. She is the inspiring woman everyone in this field should follow. Besides the academic context, we enjoyed Vietnam with the great company of everyone. We couldn’ask anything better from the week and we are definitely ready to welcome Mr.Long Vu back to the island of Koh Seh!
Stay tuned guys! Other exciting news are coming soon..