Road to an Expedition: The Provisional Team

Part 1 of the ‘Road to an Expedition’ Series. 

With just under a year to go until Perhentian Ecology kicks off all over again, the time has come to recruit a new team for next year. There were 3 of us in 2014, and from experience, that wasn’t quite enough for a fully fledged ecological expedition (and it wasn’t, it was a feasibility study). Whilst 3 was too few, any more than 6 would limit the mobility and flexibility of the expedition, and with the potential of teaming up with a Malaysian university, a compact, flexible and experienced team is exactly what is needed. In a simple posting on Facebook, I’ve already managed to assemble a very strong team, although a few people who said they would like to join have skill-sets that just don’t match the task at hand.

Provisionally, and ultimately in my head, the team stands as follows.

Billy Burton, Expedition Leader: Making it happen. Performing surveys, planning, grant applications, social media, medical support and all the other fun things that come with leadership. I’m very experienced on the Perhentian Islands and know exactly what needs to be done to make our research be as valuable as possible. Theoretically at least, I am currently one of the authorities on the ecology of the Perhentian Islands.

Rhian Grey, Director of Science: Rhian is a zoology graduate of the University of Exeter, with an impressive array of field experience, including stints in Borneo and China. Rhian will add ecological authority to the expedition, ensuring that our methodologies are as effective as possible and that they are planned and adhered to properly. A good photographer in her own right, Rhian will slot into the role like a glove.

Josh Gray, Head of Photography: Josh was a member of the original 2014 expedition, and is entering his final year at Falmouth University, studying Marine and Natural History Photography. He is an extremely talented photographer, and is highly experienced in tropical rainforests, spending the Summer of 2014 embedded with Ecoteer, venturing for days at a time into Taman Negara. The quality of the images Josh captures are second to none and thus he makes a no-brainer for 2016.

Jamie Bubb, Expedition Logistics and Management: Jamie is perhaps the most ‘left-field’ selection, but it is this that makes him a brilliant addition to the team. Jamie is studying business at Lancaster University, and spent last year on a year abroad at a university in Bangkok, Thailand. Highly motivated, with excellent organisational and management skills honed in a number of internships, an ecological expedition will admittedly be a new experience for Jamie. I have no doubts, however, that he will be vital in getting this project off the ground, in the terms of organisation, networking and managing the day-to-day operations on the ground.

This team offers a much more holistic approach than was possible last year, and there might still be room for one more person. Space could be made for one outstanding candidate for sure. Another bioscientist perhaps, or a skilled videographer to film a documentary based around the expedition and the islands.

Our research will invariably focus on herps, and I discovered a neat little trick use by Expedition Manu, Peru, in the Amazon this year. In order to gain ID shots of smaller herps, they used a glass plate upon which the reptile/amphibian was placed, enabling them to capture detailed shots of underside of the specimen, which can be highly valuable. This is a neat little trick that we will be hoping to use next Summer.

To round off, I am really happy with the prospective team for next year. There might be room for one more, and current members may decide they don’t want to go. However, as it stands, Perhentian Ecology is going to produce some excellent science next summer!

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