What do Lobsters and Manta Rays have in Common...?
The answer of course, is our fabulous and hard working JOANNA HARRIS!
Our amazing and talented Joanna Harris will be leaving us at the end of this week! Jo has been the warm and welcoming face that many of you will recognize and has been the most amazing help at the hatchery over the last 4 years. However, Joanna has a new very exciting venture with the Manta Trust.
Joanna originally started as a volunteer here at the NLH and has now worked her way through a foundation course, an honours degree, a masters and is now doing a PHD on Manta Rays in the Chagos Islands - We think she's one pretty special and dedicated individual.
As you can tell, she has been working and studying extremely hard to get to this point, so we thought we'd do a little interview with her to help inspire other budding marine biologists!
When did you start at the hatchery and why/what did you do?
I started at the hatchery in 2015. I was studying Marine Conservation at Cornwall College Newquay and, as part of the course, I started as a voluntary Public Education Assistant in the Visitor Centre. The job is all about communicating the importance of sustainable fishing and what we do at the National Lobster Hatchery to support the local lobster population.
How long have you been at the hatchery?
Almost four years.
What are you doing now?
I am a PhD student at the University of Plymouth and Project Leader for the Manta Trust’s Chagos Manta Ray Project.
What’s this about Mantra Rays!??
Reef manta rays have been the focus of my studies from undergraduate to master’s and now PhD. The species are under enormous pressure from fishing, habitat degradation and unregulated tourism, so their conservation is essential. The Manta Trust has affiliated projects all over the world, working hard to ensure they are protected. I am very proud to say I am part of that team.
What are you going to be doing?!
I am the project leader for the Manta Trust’s Manta Ray Project in the Chagos Archipelago; British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). The region is exceptionally unique as it is relatively untouched by direct human influence, so it has one of the most pristine marine environments on Earth. It is also one of the most understudied, so the reef manta ray population are largely undocumented. In November, I will be travelling with a team of scientist to study these manta rays and the associations between their presence and behaviour, physical oceanographic processes and the plankton community. The results will help inform conservation management plans in the region as well as in other areas of the world where biodiversity is under threat from climate change and a multitude of other human impacts
How awesome are you??
The awesome ones are the team I am working with both from the University of Plymouth and the Manta Trust. I am absolutely honoured to have been given the opportunity to work with them.
When do you sleep?!
What’s been your favorite thing about being at the hatchery?
Right from the start I was struck by how passionate and dedicated everyone who works for and with the National Lobster Hatchery is about marine conservation. It’s contagious, and it fuelled my determination to protect our oceans. I am so grateful for how supportive the lobster lovelies team has been for the last four years – I am truly blessed!
Will you come back and visit us? <3
Absolutely! Going to miss you all 🙁
We want to say a MASSIVE good luck and Thank you to the wonderful Jo - she's going on to do amazing things, and we feel privileged that she has been part of the NLH team.