Tuesday 16 August 2016

An insight into the world of science...

By Peggy Liebig - NDP Intern Jun-Jul 2016

My 6 week internship with the NDP started with a couple days of theoretical presentations about what we are going to work on for the next 6 weeks. Each week had a different theme which we were learning the theory and practice about. Then we got to work...

Each day two of the four interns would get on the boat in the morning (weather dependent, unfortunately the weather was really bad the time we were there) while the other two stayed in the office to do Photo-ID. When coming back from the boat we entered the collected data into the spreadsheets. Also there would be one of us going on a tour boat to gain some additional opportunistic data and how the tour boats are interacting with dolphins and seals.
We also did a bird survey almost every day to count the different species of birds in the lagoon.

The first weeks theme was Photo-ID. That were also the first days on our research boat Nanuuq. That time we spend with Dr. Simon Elwen and learnt a lot how to take the best pictures of dorsal fins on the boat and how to identify the different individuals. With that data it is possible to get an abundance estimate for the bottlenose population in Walvis Bay. Bridget showed us later in the internship how to do that in R and Mark.  

The second week was all about behavior. We did a scan sampling on the boat with the dolphins but also practiced some other methods on shore with flamingos. Unfortunately we did not have the opportunity to pay as much attention to that topic as to the first weeks theme.

Boat work was the theme of the third week. That’s when we learnt to tie knots, skipper a boat, to deploy moorings with C-PODS and how to shoot a crossbow for biopsy purposes. At the end of the week we had a quiz night to test our knowledge in the categories knots, boat parts, navigation and behaviour.

For the fourth week Dr. Tess Gridley came up to Namibia to teach us about acoustics. She gave us a little task were we had different signature whistles and we had to categorize them. The second day we started to get familiar with the software Raven and became a sound file with whistles where we had to get some measurements like highest/lowest frequency, time and peak power. The fifth week was all about strandings. We did a strandings survey along the beach where each of us was allowed to practice some sand driving. Furthermore we prepared a debate for and against human impact on strandings.

This internship really helps you to understand how a field research is conducted. Although you do not have the time to get into every detail as deep as you would like, everyone on this project was keen to help us understand the different techniques, show us specifically what we were interested in and of course also how to have a good time in Namibia.


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Research is a very vast and diverse field. There are many things to explore and investigate in the world. Exploring it open new dimensions.

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