Young Science Communicator Winner

I am pleased to announce that I have won the 'open' category for Young Science Communicator of 2018 with NRF-SAASTA! My entry below, named "Finding fish", illustrates our environmental DNA research through cartoon! This exciting work is being carried out in the von der Heyden lab at Stellenbosch University, South Africa, in collaboration with the Molecular Ecology …

Exciting new tool for marine conservation: environmental DNA

Fish and other aquatic animals shed DNA into the surrounding water. This means that seawater is filled with the DNA of the animals living there, and this is known as environmental DNA (eDNA). Scientists have used environmental DNA to study a range of animals, from earlier eDNA studies in 2008 (e.g. on the invasive American Bullfrog), …

How does mangrove carbon offset work?

  Coastal livelihood and mangroves Coastal villages often heavily rely on fishing for livelihood, and also often have houses and buildings close to the shore. Areas of coast with mangrove forests benefit from the mangroves supporting large fisheries, and also protecting the shoreline from erosion and sedimentation. Although these benefits are significant to the local …

Sustainable livelihoods

Today we visited the fish ponds in Makongeni, South Kenya. There is a local group in the village (90% women) who run the fish ponds. They gain benefits for the community (from selling the fish product) whilst avoiding using and degrading the local mangrove ecosystem. There are five fish ponds, with milkfish of different life …

A poem inspired by a visit to the Manchester Museum

I thoroughly recommend Manchester Museum for any age. There’s lots going on there, and there are many ways to enjoy the exhibits. Here are a couple of videos I filmed and edited for Manchester Museum, showing the journey that Helen Clare took when writing her poetry that’s inspired by the museum collections.

Entomology Manchester

Writing a poem seems to be a mystery for many people, and it is indeed an act of creativity by those who are able to observe the world within or around them and to perceive it in a new way. A poem can be about anything, from old love memories to a crawling bug; it is about capturing a feeling that you have experienced. However, it’s hard to know where you should start. Helen Clare, a freelance writer and poet from Manchester, presents a possible approach to how to write a poem on the basis of, say, a visit to the Manchester Museum. If you want to know how to write a poem, this story is for you.

Below you can listen to the poem narrated and presented by Helen Clare. The printed text of the poem can be found here.

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Heart Shaped Predator

Here are some of my photographs from Manchester Museum up close and personal! If you have an interest in nature, zoology, marine biology or the outdoors you will love the collections at Manchester Museum.

The Natural History of Crustaceans


Phyllolithodes papillosus Brandt, 1848

Apart from the obvious delicacy and beauty of this specimen, which overwhelmed me when I first saw it, it was actually the ‘u’ shaped depression in the middle of the dorsal side of this specimen that caught my eye. It looks spectacular and, now that the specimen is bleached of it’s colour you can see clearly every ridge and nook. It would originally have been a muddy brown/green with dark red ridges, colours which are long gone from our specimen here in Manchester. It seems like an unusual little thing, which I like and it makes me want to know more.

I then went on to find that it’s common name is the heart crab. For such a masculine and sturdy looking thing, I couldn’t help but think the heart crab didn’t do it much justice.

They are found from subtidal zones right down to 183m…

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