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Female loggerhead at the Gnaraloo Bay Rookery

Introducing the GTCP team 2012/13

We would like to introduce you to this season’s new field research team who have come to Gnaraloo representing 4 countries with a range of educational and research experience.

Sawhet owl

Wonnita Andrus, GTCP’s field research Team Leader 2012/13, hails from the prairies of Alberta, Canada. Wonnita is a registered professional Wildlife Biologist with three years commercial consulting experience. She has a Masters degree in Biology, with a specialization in rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis) ecology, a Bachelors of Environmental Science and a Diploma in Renewable Resource Management. Wonnita’s career has been a blend of interesting positions that have included employment as a field biologist, a wildlife disease surveillance technician for government, a habitat stewardship coordinator for a non-government agency and a nature guide. Wonnita has also been involved in biological research studies including small mammal behaviour, ungulate movement patterns, species’ reintroduction programs, bird and bat censusing and amphibian surveys.

Giant kelp

Careena Crossman, our GIS Cartographer is originally from Perth, Western Australia. She recently completed her Honours degree at the University of Tasmania in Hobart and completed a Bachelor of Marine Science at Murdoch University in Western Australia. Careena’s Honours research project focused on the long line Patagonian Toothfish Fishery (Dissostichus eleginoides), specifically the impact the fisheries presence was having on non-target species being caught as by-catch. She was also an intern for the Commission for the Conservation of Marine Living Resources (Tasmania).

European seabass

James Vaughan, an Englishman from Lincoln, is this year’s GTCP Research Coordinator. James graduated from Bangor University (Wales) with a Masters in Marine Biology and from Hull University (England) with a Bachelors degree in Aquatic Zoology. James is interested in ichthyology (fish). His Masters dissertation looked at fish impingement at a power station and the impacts that it had on local fish stocks. James has research experience collecting stable isotope samples on a large-scale fish farm on a project that investigated fish diets and the environmental impacts of the farm on surrounding areas. He hopes to pursue a career in freshwater or marine biology.

African cheetah

And finally, I (Nikki Best) am this season’s Community Coordinator. My hometown is St. Louis, Missouri (USA). I completed a Masters of Science degree in Conservation Biology at the University of Cape Town (South Africa), a Masters in Conservation Biology at the University of New South Wales (Australia) and received my Bachelors in Animal Behaviour at Long Island University (New York). My graduate work looked at the impact of fisheries on cartilaginous fish (Chondrichthyes) (sharks, rays, skates and chimeras) in False Bay, South Africa. I also have research experience with bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncates) and tucuxi (Sotalia fluviatilis) in Costa Rica, great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) in South Africa and krill (Euphausiids) in the Eastern Australian Current.

We began work with GTCP’s Project Manager, Karen Hattingh, in Walpole (Western Australia) on 1 October 2012 and are now knee deep into project preparation, planning and protocols. We are all fortunate to be apart of the Gnaraloo Turtle Conservation Program and looking forward to an exciting year contributing to the research and conservation of marine turtle species in Western Australia. Keep and eye out for future GTCP field diaries to follow our progress throughout the nesting season 2012/13!

Cheers, Nikki

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