I recently had the privilege, thanks in part to a study abroad grant from the Graduate School, to attend the 3rd International Marine Conservation Congress in Glasgow, Scotland. My experience with the perception of conservationists is that we trade in “doom and gloom” – but that could not have been further from the truth at this meeting. Certainly our planet could be in better shape, but a lot of people are working hard and having success in a lot of conservation projects around the world. The two major themes of the conference – which tie together quite nicely – are that 1) we need to be positive about the successes we are having and the prospect for future success, and 2) we need to communicate these successes through social media in interesting and responsible ways.
The conference was particularly helpful as a student – everyday at lunch there was a career building exercise. I got to practice my ‘elevator speech’ (which apparently is strictly an American term) and interview skills, discuss job opportunities with a host of agencies, and sit down to lunch with the plenary speakers in a small group. While going to a meeting all by my lonesome for the first time caused some anxiety in the beginning, by the end I’d made friends from Canada to Iceland to Camaroon! I even came across a handful of College of Charleston graduates, out in the ‘real world’ making a difference!
All in all, I’m incredibly grateful to CofC for supporting me in this adventure. I’ll leave you with a (very quick) synopsis of my thesis work (which I presented at the conference) and a cartoon that celebrated environmental cartoonist Seppo drew for me (he also drew the meeting’s cartoon at the top):
My research focuses on the stone crab fishery – which is considered renewable because crabs are returned to the water after their claws are harvested under the assumption that claws will be regenerated and perhaps reach marketable size. To what degree this assumption is met is unclear, but my laboratory and field experiments suggest that claw removal leads to significant changes in feeding behavior, movement and survival.