Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Fieldwork in French Polynesia

Parasitology isn’t always glamorous, but I find it comes with perks. I just got back from a month of fieldwork in French Polynesia, and it was awesome.

Approaching Moorea, French Polynesia on the ferry from Tahiti    
Along with two other students from my lab, I was lucky enough to be invited over by Dr. Pierre Sasal to work on a project examining the parasites of three species of important aquaculture fish in French Polynesia: Chanos chanos, Siganus argenteus, and Platax orbicularis. While we were there we also had plenty of time to collect fish for our own research projects. For me that meant fish of the families Acanthuridae and Kyphosidae. I was also pleasantly surprised to get some interesting trematodes in the family Atractotrematidae from Chanos chanos and Siganus argenteus.

A beautiful Naso vlamingii I collected off Rangiroa in the Tuamotus. Species of Acanthuridae in the genus Naso have some very interesting haplosplanchnid trematodes that I am currently working on.

We spent our first two and our last week at the CRIOBE research facility in Moorea, a small island just off Tahiti.  Moorea is stunningly beautiful, and the water is warm and clear.  If you ever get to visit, be sure to try the local fruit juice. Baguettes are a given.

The bay we set out from each day on our way to the reef.

 Our third week was spent in Rangiroa, a large atoll in the Tuamotus. This place was far out.

Pretty sure I could live here

Although the trematode fauna of French Polynesia is relatively depauperate compared with the Great Barrier Reef, I was still able to make a pretty good collection.  I’ve got a lot of projects on my plate right now, but hopefully I’ll get around to working up my French Polynesian collection soon. French Polynesia was among the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, and being able to spend a month collecting there was a privilege I won’t soon forget.


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