This weekend I attended the annual RCUK conference hosted by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) at London zoo. This was my first conferences as a PhD student, and although not very high profile it gave me a taster for future conferences to come. What made this event even more exciting was that I was joined by my close friend Elsa who had travelled from Norway to present a poster (and partly to visit her significant other).
Well we made a good first impression by turning up late, even though we had arranged to stay in London the night before to avoid this happening. We had the excuse that the heavy snow closed that station which was closest to us and we had to grab a ride to the next station (although mine and Elsa’s extra ten minute snooze did not help matters!). Luckily we only missed the first presentation, which was a shame as it was actually on a rather interesting topic relating to ciliate diseases of corals, myself of which have experienced this just recently inside our own tanks. But I made up for the fact that I spoke to the presenter in the first break to chat about what I missed and what we had found in our own tanks. Not to bore you with the details, but we recently suffered a ciliate attack on our stylophora colony which stripped the tissue bare in just a few hours, it was only by chance that I decided to take a look under the microscope that I stumbled across the ciliate army!
The rest of the conference was surprisingly quite good and very scientific, I had heard some rumors that the whole affair had a reputation for being a bit of a joke amongst the scientific community, and was only really a opportunity for expedition organizations to present how well their projects are going. There were a few not so interesting talks which did make my eyes doze if just for a second (or a nudge from Elsa) and the heavy policy talks towards the end were quite a strain, but all in all I thoroughly enjoyed the day; plus I got to spend half an hour in the zoo at lunch, using the time to see the otters, meerkats, baby gorilla and the reptile house where I was eyed up by a feisty black mamba.
I would definitely recommend that anyone interested in coral reef conservation and the type of work that is being conducted in the UK to go along next year. I know you may say well the UK has no coral reefs so why bother? Well you would be wrong! The UK actually is home to the largest coral atoll in the world!! Well it’s not on the main islands of the United Kingdom, but rather in the British Indian Ocean Territory, if you don’t believe me just take a look at the Chagos Archipelago – http://www.chagos-trust.org/