Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to visit ZSL London, and it really was a trip worth my while. Prior to my visit, I was in The Netherlands for a government-sponsored three-week training course. Since I was already in Europe and near the UK, I was invited to visit ZSL in London to give a presentation about my EDGE coral project and discuss project progress with the ZSL team. It was an invitation I didn’t hesitate to accept!
Upon arriving in London, I met with EDGE Fellow Co-ordinator Cath Lawson, who helped me plan out my itinerary so I could maximize my time whilst in London. First things first: David Curnick, ZSL Marine and Freshwater Programme Coordinator, took me around ZSL headquarters – it was here that I finally got to personally meet the people behind the impressive work of ZSL. I saw for myself how much work it entails to run their programmes and how much dedication and commitment people had put into the EDGE coral reefs programme.
My presentation was well attended by staff from across the Society. I felt that the presentation was a good opportunity for me to show them, especially those who have not been to the Philippines, what it is like to work in the field and what motivates and challenges EDGE Fellows like me as we undertake our day-to-day tasks and responsibilities. The talk was also a chance for me to present the preliminary results of my underwater surveys of 9 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the Philippines. I was happy to inform the audience that I had found EDGE coral species (Physogyra lichtensteini and Heliofungia actiniformis) in the sites that I had surveyed.
After my presentation, I, along with members of the EDGE team, attended a fundraising dinner being hosted by Synchronicity Earth to help raise much needed funds for the EDGE Programme. It was my first experience of attending such a gathering and it was enlightening to see just how well-informed and committed ZSL donors are.
My remaining days at ZSL were spent meeting with other experts based at ZSL such as Xav, Cassandra and Paul in the Discovery and Learning team. They gave me great insight into how to further develop the education component of my project. I was also taken on a tour around ZSL’s Aquarium by Rachel, who not only showed me the various coral and breeding exhibits but also gave me more information about EDGE coral species. I also met with Cath, David and Heather Koldewey (Head of Global Programmes) and they helped me to analyze my data and plan the future of my project, detailing how they will further support my growth as an EDGE Fellow. They also gave me the rare opportunity to meet with David Obura, one of the world’s most renowned experts in coral taxonomy, who generously took the time to teach me more about EDGE coral identification.
My visit to ZSL was not just a learning experience; it was a trip that made me see how well supported I am as an EDGE Fellow and that I belong to the ZSL family.
To learn more about Grace’s EDGE Fellowship project, please visit her community page.