Author Archive

Why whale poop is worth a fortune

Why whale poop is worth a fortune

Did you know there may only be 3000 sperm whales alive today that are capable of making ambergris? Find out more about this rare, strange stuff with a smell that is very hard to describe, in this a short podcast I made for Chemistry World.


Fiji fish arrive in New York – guest post from Amy McDermott

Fiji fish arrive in New York - guest post from Amy McDermott

Following our fish collecting expedition to Fiji in July with Dr Josh Drew here’s a catch up on what’s happened to the fish, in a guest post from Amy McDermott. Amy’s about to start her masters at Columbia University but for now Josh is putting her to work in the lab. It’s a gray afternoon in […]


Fiji fish. You catch them, then what?

During our expedition in Fiji we caught a lot of fish to add to the collections at the American Museum of Natural History. But how did we get them there? Here’s Josh Drew explaining to me how to process the fish ready for packing up and putting on the plane. [vimeo]https://vimeo.com/71731020[/vimeo]


Catching lionfish with my bare hands

Catching lionfish with my bare hands

My recent trip to Fiji was my first time catching fish. Up until now, most of my research and work underwater has involved watching fish, writing notes on waterproof paper, sometimes filming them, but essentially coming back to land empty handed. And one of the many things I learned from Josh Drew during the expedition […]


Fiji fish – the Drew Crew go gathering fish

You’ll know if you’ve been browsing through Seamonster this past month or so that I’ve been in Fiji with Dr Joshua Drew and four research students from Columbia University. We’re all back home now but I still have heaps to share with you from our trip. Here’s the first of my latest batch of videos […]


Saying goodbye to village life

Saying goodbye to village life

This evening we said a sad goodbye to our wonderful hosts in Nagigi village here in Fiji. Everyone has been incredibly welcoming and warm to us and it honestly felt like a great privilege to spend time in their company – more on that later. But for now, since it’s already late and we have another 4am […]


When the diving gets tough

When the diving gets tough

My plan for today in Fiji was to get up early, go out fishing with the women of Nagigi to record a piece for BBC Radio, then join the rest of the Drew Crew for diving to sample more fish. It hasn’t quite worked out that way. Last night the metal roof of the house […]


Moving on from Savusavu

Moving on from Savusavu

The research team here in Fiji has been in the small town of Savusavu on Viti Levu for a few days now and we’ve all decided this is one of the most perfect spots in the world. The town lies along a tranquil stretch of water with dense mangrove forests and craggy, cloud-tipped mountains as […]


Studying Fijian fish

Here’s Dr Joshua Drew just up from our first dive here in Fiji talking about the science we’re doing, studying the fish diversity on the coral reefs around the village of Naigigi (prounounced Nai – ni). [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgg2RN4dwsM[/youtube] #CUinFiji


Fiji’s blue ocean – just to make you jealous

Fiji's blue ocean - just to make you jealous

Today was our first day of field work here in Fiji. We’re all exhausted from diving, interviewing, and processing fish samples. So I’m afraid all I have for you is some envy-inducing photos. (I promise to post more about the science soon!).


Getting ready for science

Getting ready for science

It’s been a while since I’ve been part of a research team or travelled with more than one other person (often I’m by myself or with my husband). And so far, on this trip to Fiji it’s been a delight to spend time with five other people who share many of my views on the […]


Seamonster in Fiji – it doesn’t all go to plan

Today we were supposed to catch a ferry out to our field site. But the ferry is delayed so instead we’re catching a bus-boat combo and arriving a day late (and we only have a week set aside for science). That’s tropical fieldwork for you. And just to show you that things don’t always go […]


Introducing the Drew Crew

Bula. I’m in Fiji with Joshua Drew and his team from the Columbia University. We’ve been in Fiji’s capital, Suva, for a few days getting prepped for the field – sorting permits, meeting people, setting up equipment, all the things that need to happen before we head off to the study site. When Josh very […]


Meeting marine predators (aka diving with sharks) – Part 2

I’m in Fiji on a research expedition with Joshua Drew from Columbia University. Before the hard research work started I took off a day and went diving with bull sharks. Read part 1 of my encounter with some of the oceans biggest predators here. Within a minute or two of being surrounded by forty bull […]


Meeting marine predators – Part 1

Meeting marine predators - Part 1

In the lead up to my first dive in Fiji a lot of people asked me if I was scared. Was I nervous? It was going to be my three hundred and somethingth dive, so by now I’m used to being beneath the waves. But the conversation that I had a few times ran like […]


How to extract lionfish otoliths

Do you need to know how to get ear bones out of lionfish? Or are you just curious to know what the inside of a lionfish’s head looks like? Either way check out this film shot on location in Abaco, Bahamas featuring the crack lionfish catching team, Serena Hackerott and Katie Dubois. [vimeo]https://vimeo.com/67320381[/vimeo] Otoliths are teeny […]


Fiji fish – Napoleon wrasse

Fiji fish - Napoleon wrasse

Another coral reef fish I'm hoping to see in Fiji (on my upcoming expedition with Joshua Drew) is the Napoleon wrasse or humphead wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus). They are fish that are especially close to my heart because I spent four years studying them for my PhD. Here's a splendid male: So I'm biased – clearly – […]


Fiji fish – Emperor Angelfish

Fiji fish - Emperor Angelfish

I'm stoked to be going to Fiji this June with Joshua Drew from Colombia University and his crew of PhDs and masters students. My main role on the expedition is going to be documenting the science and spreading the word to the rest of the world about reefs and conservation and all things fishy (I like to think of myself […]


5 things everyone should know about ancient oceans

Here’s the first in the series of 5 videos I made with researchers at Cardiff University’s School of Ocean & Earth Sciences. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GE4PN1GdilY[/youtube] Check out all 5 in the playlist here.


Ocean problems made small

Ocean problems made small

In a brand new series of miniature underwater scenes, Jason Isley turns his eye to some of the greatest problems of the oceans.


Seamonster does standup

Seamonster does standup

They say you should do one thing that scares you everyday. Well recently I did one thing that was scary enough to keep me going for weeks. I did my first standup comedy gig. I should explain, this wasn’t as scary as it could have been. I took part in Cambridge Bright Club – a […]


All Reef Creatures Great and Small

All Reef Creatures Great and Small

In a follow up to our interview with Prof. Charles Sheppard about his latest expedition to the Chagos Archipelago, here is PhD researcher Catherine Head in an exclusive Seamonster guest post giving us a glimpse of the incredible hidden word of coral reef cryptofauna. Chagos for me is what it’s all about, it represents why […]


Chagos expedition 2013

Chagos expedition 2013

A year ago here on Seamonster, we heard from a team of scientists who were studying the coral islands of the remote Chagos archipelago (go back and check out parts one and two of our interview to find out just how dangerous ‘Danger Island’ is and to see more photographs from that expedition). I’m delighted […]


Sharks on CITES

Sharks on CITES

  It’s a big week for sharks. The latest round of talks on international wildlife trade are being held in Bangkok right now. In the coming days delegates will consider proposals to protect hammerhead sharks, oceanic whitetip sharks, and porbeagles. Manta rays and some freshwater stingrays are also on the list. The proposals are to […]