Bailey Lovett: Future Scientist
A four-week summer placement at Auckland Museum has helped shape Future Scientist of the Year Bailey Lovett's study ambitions and set her on a path to a career in marine biology.
Bailey won the Prime Minister's award for science at the end of last year and $50,000 towards her studies at Otago University but her plans to study biomedical science in 2011 have changed after a month spent working with the Museum's marine curator Tom Trnski. Her placement saw her sorting fish specimens in the Museum's collection facilities, collecting fish samples at Mangawhai Heads and picking through nets to find fish larvae until 1.30am in the waters off the Mercury Islands. Auckland Museum congratulates Bailey and looks forward to hearing news of her studies.
Bailey's Daily Project Diary
Bailey kept a diary while she was with the Museum which captured her enthusiasm for studying marine life...
5th January 2011
Arrived at Auckland Airport at around 9:30pm; a rather uneventful trip to my accommodation but Tom told me that we would be leaving the next afternoon to go to Mangawhai Heads to collect fish samples, exciting!!!!
6th January 2011
Went to the museum for the first time today, met a load of new people who all made the museum seem like a lovely welcoming place to be, just like Iíd hoped.
Got my own I.D card (wahoo!), plastic and everything with its own little lanyard and protector, Iím so stoked!!!! I also got shown how to get out my own sets of keys, which made me feel really important and cool because I can now get through Ďforbiddení doors while the public gaze on enviously (hehe).
Also arrived at Mangawhai Heads this evening, went out for tea at the Smashed Pipi, which tasted alright but nothing outstanding unfortunately (I do love my food). Anyway better get to bed as we have to get up early (5am) in the morning for our first set of fish sampling net tows, canít wait!!!!
7th January 2011
We all got up at 5:30am this morning (extra half an hourís sleep, YUSSS) to do the first set of net tows for the fish. The purpose of these tows was to collect fish species which would give Steffi, a student who was researching fairy terns (small birds which use a tactic similar to Kamikaze planes to catch food, by dive bombing the water at high speeds), an idea of their diet. It was an absolutely beautiful morning and we also had the privilege of seeing sting rays thrashing about in the water, which was really cool. I also tried to catch a flounder/flatfish (as the North Islanders like to call them) with my hands....and failed miserably, haha.
The rest of the day brought more small fish, including baby flounder, which are by far my favourite, (they are so cute!!!), as well as hundreds of gobies and crabs, which didnít like the formalin very much (any wonder when itís a chemical used for embalming). I also spent the whole day in my bikini so I should get a pretty solid all over tan which I am really happy about.
Overall an amazing two days!!!!!!
8th January 2011
Staying in a bikini all day with no sunscreen on? HUGE MISTAKE
Iím seriously considering going to the hospital next door because the pain is so bad (by the way itís 2am at the moment, which gives you an indication of the pain level). Went to the beach with Loren today and the heat (not to mention the embarrassment of having the most hideous tan lines, or should I say burn lines, ever!).
However I did 10 clap press ups and got a free Coke so the day wasnít a complete bummer. After the beach we went back to Lorenís and made a banana cake and swam in her pool for ages.
However my final word is ďNever let YOURSELF get sunburnt, itís so not worth the possibility of a slight tan!!!!Ē
9th January 2011
Still not feeling very well today, but got up the motivation to go down to the gym and pool for three hours. It hurt so much to put my togs on, not to mention I looked like a cooked crayfish bathed in Thousand Island dressing (because my togs are pink hehe). Just as I was about to go to sleep, I get a call from my mates back home which was amazing, I didnít think Iíd ever get missed!!!! I ended up talking to them for over an hour, which means Iíll probably be tired for tomorrow. Oh well it took my mind off my sunburn for a while at least!!!!
10th January 2011
Went to the fish collection out at Papakura today. It was honestly like walking into heaven for me. I am seriously considering changing back to marine biology for university, thatís how amazing this trip has been for me so far already. My job at the fish collection was to tag the fish with a number so they could later be identified and sorted into their correct species preserving drum. You tag the fish with a little tagging gun so I thought I was pretty cool walking around with that. The smell of ethanol, which is used to preserve the fish is, is so overpowering at first but you soon get used to it (Tom says that it can make you feel a little woozy after a while, and I thought to myself, how funny would it be if you got breath tested at a police checkpoint and got booked because you had been inhaling industrial ethanol for the whole day, hahahaha). Anyway we are heading out for a two day trip to the Mercury Islands with a PhD student to collect more fish samples, should be awesome!!!!
P.S. No the sunburn hasnít gone away, I have used a whole bottle of aloe vera gel on it, I just hope itís gone by Friday when I have my underwater hockey NZ training camp!
11th January 2011
Went to the Mercury Islands today, was supposed to get up early and go to the gym but ended up waking up five minutes before Tom was due to pick me up, and I had nothing packed either!!!! The boat trip lasted three hours and was fun as except for whenever the boat went over the crest of a huge wave and was dumped into the trough of the next one my back or stomach (depending on which way I was lying) would get smacked against the side of the seat, which was very painful, keeping in mind that my sunburn hasnít decreased in severity since the first day after it happened, but in reality it serves me right. So when we got to the Mercs it was a beautiful day, but since the small Naiad dinghy that Carina (PhD student) was using could only fit three people tops I stayed back on the main boat, the Hawere, and read a book about whales and dolphins. When Tom and Carina got back from sampling we had lime and sodas and Doritos and dip while watching the sunset. After that Carina and Tom went for a swim off the boat, and later on I followed suit, even though I had to wear a silly rash top, but oh well at least it kept the sun off. Then we had an AMAZING dinner, actually amazing is an understatement, I just canít describe how lovely it was. Lovingly prepared by Megan, our designated cook for the trip it was delicious to say the least. Vegetarian lasagne, with this amazing fresh salad and delicious bread bought from a bakery. Following dinner, we prepared for sampling, which involved towing a plankton net through the water behind the boat for a set number of minutes, then pulling the plankton net up by the winch, and sorting through trays of the netís catch for fish larvae, keeping our eyes especially peeled for snapper larvae, which is what Carina was interested in. Now I must explain what this sorting was like. There are small organisms called salps, which look like fish eggs floating in the water, however are closely related to jellyfish, and at certain times, when the conditions for reproduction are optimum, millions of salps crowd the seas so that when swimming in the ocean, you get a feeling that is not unlike swimming through sago. This was one of those times. We ended up having to winch the net back up as soon as it hit the bottom of the sea on each tow because that was the only way we could sample without ripping the net, simply because of the sheer volume and weight of the number of salps we were catching. Now the salps are clear with a black/brown dot in the middle of them. After each tow we had a chilly bin full of organisms from the net (mainly salps) that had to be sorted through. Armed with a pair of tweezers, a sharp set of eyes and the mindset to get the job done, we sorted through 12 chilly bins full of salps to find the fish larvae, which are smaller than a pinhead. This we did for 6.5 hours straight, from 7pm until 1:30am, and by the end of it my neck and eyes were so sore, but I still really enjoyed it. At about 12am we got a huge influx of anchovy larvae, small eel-like larvae which are clear and incredibly hard to see and pick up, even with tweezers. That was probably the only part of the night I didnít enjoy. Needless to say I was really glad to get to sleep and rest my brain and eyes.
12th January 2011
This morning Tom, Carina, Brady (boat skipper) and I went for a snorkel to check out the biodiversity around the Mercury Islands before we left to go back to base. Tom had just finished telling me not to swim too close to the large jellyfish that were floating in the water, then as he is swimming along he just swims straight into one and it smacks him in the face. I was watching the whole thing and just cracked up laughing, thinking ďhe must know that one isnít dangerousĒ. Turns out he hadnít even seen it in the water and that it was lucky it was only a juvenile, and that its tentacles werenít long enough to be dangerous. There were so many cool fish down there though, leatherjackets, blue cod, and even a small school of trevally juveniles sheltering beneath the bell of a jellyfish for protection from predators, which was cool. After that we had lunch then headed back to the wharf to go home. It took another three hours to get back and another hour and a quarter to get back to Huia, where Iím staying. I was supposed to go to the movies with friends, but some people pulled out so I decided to go to the gym instead which was good. I am definitely dead set on doing marine biology now, biomedical science is out the window for sure. I was thinking to myself that one of the best things about this experience so far has been the fact that whatever a task involves, I am never treated as inferior or less mature or experienced as anyone else, there is no one there always looking over my shoulder or constantly reminding me what to do, Iím just given a task and left to do it, which I love. Iím treated here like an experienced researcher and scientist, and I am thriving in this atmosphere, which is awesome.
13th January 2011
Today was more of a correspondence day more than anything, I was just sorting out and renaming photos of fish labels from the collection that werenít logged into the database. I also met quite a few new people but today was sort of a wind down so I could focus on my underwater hockey training camp in the weekend. Still managed to get down to the gym though which was good.
14th January 2011
Popped into work this morning just to finish off some photo labelling before I was picked up for the camp, hopefully I wonít be too tired for Monday.
UWH NZ Camp
15th January 2011
UWH NZ Camp
16th January 2011
UWH NZ Camp
17th January 2011
Back out at the fish collection today to finish packing the fish into their drums. I was in charge of making tags this time using the DYMO, a label making device, which I thought was really fun, although I was sweating hard out in my sexy Tyvek suit hahaha (I looked like I was dealing with some highly toxic, top secret chemicals). Anyway after that came the really strenuous bit; I had to top up the drums with ethanol then stack them onto pallets and wheel the pallets away for storage. My back was extremely sore after this work, but I still went to the gym and pool after. Itís good as because I now have a training partner at the pool, so he explains the training we will do that night and we will do it, plus I have someone to push me to work harder, which is great. Had to do a rain check for my bedtimes though after I locked my keys in my locker with my clothes at the pool so had to get a bolt cutter from reception to get my clothes out, seems like I need to be getting much more sleep haha.
18th January 2011
Today I had some more photos to label, so I did that for the morning. I then started sorting through some samples Tom had gathered from Little Barrier Island to find larval fish and invertebrates. Along the way I fell in love....with the octopus larvae!!!! They are about quarter of the size of a pin head but under the microscope you can see their wee arms and the mottled spots on their heads, itís so cute!!!!!!! After getting a headache from the formalin preserving the samples and from looking down the microscope I began creating the electronic list of fish phylum (families) for use in museums around New Zealand, specifically Te Papa and Auckland Museum. I think there are about 475 families or something like that, and not only do I have to enter those names, but I also have to enter their alternative names. Iím up to family number 104 at this stage, so will be continuing on with that and the plankton samples tomorrow. Did training at the gym and with my training buddy at the pool tonight, so I am absolutely stuffed!!!! Lucky tomorrow isnít a very physical day, more mental, so I should be fine.