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A Survey of our Surveyors (Timor-Leste Expedition)

By: Michael Hugill, Category: Science, Date: 26 Sep 2012

After ten posts, you probably know what I thought of the trip ('twas great!), but what did our scientists make of their time in Timor?

Timor-Leste Marine Expedition #01

Carl Bento © Australian Museum

"The diving was great and the habitat diversity was just stunning. I found a few sabillids (for me) and some serpulids (for Elena) and there's bound to be more to be sorted out from the samples, but it's too early to know if we have any new species." 
- Anna Murray

"I was worried the diving would be bad but it was actually really good. Often reefs are damaged or silty and these were healthy reefs with good diversity. Running through the mud in the mangroves with three little Timorese girls looking for mud skippers was probably the highlight, though."
- Amanda Hay

"I found two kinds of beach hoppers including the wonderful Flores orchestia. It was the last day and I was in the mangroves, covered in mosquitoes and sandflies and I had to scramble up the hill away from a crocodile but I managed to get my sample."
- Jim Lowry (He's joking about the crocodile.)

"Just doing field work in a foreign country was a highlight for me. I liked working with everyone else, sitting around in the evenings sorting through fishes and looking at what we caught. It's so much better to sort when they're fresh rather than after they've been preserved."
- Sally Reader

"Getting my gear on and getting in the water for the first time after all the challenges we had with the freight was a highlight. But even more exciting was getting out of the water with specimens we'd waited so long to collect. Oh and the renditions of 'That's amore' every time we processed a moray eel were pretty memorable."
- Mark McGrouther

"I don't know where to start. We didn't have the facilities we expected, including a fridge, plus there was the language barrier but the people were so friendly and the spirit of Timor-Leste was just uplifting. Going to the markets and bartering and discovering new vegetables was something I'll always remember."
- Chris 'Cook' Hughes

"So many fish, solittle time. We've got an exciting list to work through and I'm looking forward to coming to the Museum once the specimens arrive back."
- Barry Russell

"It's been a great trip, we've dived on some very interesting reefs, and I'm looking forward to seeing what we've got when our specimens arrive back at the Museum. There's sure to be new species for us to describe and publish."
- Penny Berents

"The spectacular dive sites and the incredible diversity of the fish stood out to me. Timor is part of the coral triangle which has the highest diversity of reef fishes in the world and we really just scratched the surface of that, working in shallow water (less than 20m). There's a whole lot more for us to find in Timor."
- Jeff Leis

"The most memorable moment for me was snorkelling out to a fishing boat and negotiating with the fishermen from the edge of their boat. They were surprised to see I had money stuffed down the front of my wetsuit. I bought three squid which will be used for future DNA studies of this commercially important and supposedly widespread 'species'.
- Mandy Reid

"We found a selection of worms, not as diverse as I thought, but that is somewhat dependent on what I see when the specimens get back to Sydney. The diving was good, some of the sites had very high coral cover with lots of sponges typical of this part of the world. It was nice to have a mixture of collection staff and researchers working together."
- Pat Hutchings

"The part that was the most useful and enjoyable was working with other scientists, something I don't get to do a lot of because I’m normally in my office working on my own projects. I learned a lot from observing their techniques and I really enjoyed being able to have a shared working experience.
- Rosemary Golding

"A highlight was finding two species of sand-dwelling acochlidians (they don't have a common name, they're tiny little things that only about four people in the world care about!). It was also really nice to work alongside colleagues we rarely bump into back at the Museum."
- Nerida Wilson

"The highlight for me was finding wonderful symbionts (worms, crabs, squat lobsters, shrimps and fish) living on the crinoids that we caught."
- Greg Rouse

"A great moment was watching Mandy swim up to a wooden swimming vessel and pull twenty dollars out of her wetsuit to buy squid. Overall, I found that the amphipod abundance was low, but that's not uncommon in tropical areas. There was a very high diversity of small stomatapods (average size 2.5cm) – the highest I've seen in my experience working in tropical climes."
- Lauren Hughes