My early experiences as an NGT Intern from the UK – Tom Hiatt

I have recently just graduated from a BSc (Hons) Aquaculture and Fisheries Management course, based at the University Centre Sparsholt in the United Kingdom. I wanted to gain more work experience within the Aquatic Ecology sector to further enhance my studies and practical skills.

Therefore, I felt an internship would be a great way to gain these vital experiences. I got in contact with Nature Glenelg Trust and Mark Bachmann kindly offered me a graduate ecology internship for spring 2018 for which I am very grateful.

The first four weeks have flown by and with another eight weeks to go, I am sure they will go just as fast. After getting off a twenty-two-hour flight I was straight into work and have been involved in a diverse range of activities, including:

  • Seed collecting and planting at Mount Burr Swamp
  • Assisting with Southern Pygmy Perch sampling, as part of a population recovery project
  • Helping out with NGT’s National Wattle Day event at Kurrawonga in Nelson
  • Lizard surveying around Furner
  • Research on Little Galaxias and planning for future surveys
  • Southern Brown Bandicoot observations near Mount Burr Swamp
  • Vegetation assessments
  • Setting up reptile grids at Walker Swamp

Tom Hiatt measuring fish during the recent survey of Long Swamp

More recently, the last two weeks I have been assisting Lauren V with her spring fish sampling of Long Swamp. The purpose of these surveys is to monitor how native fish populations are responding to the on-ground restoration work that has been completed, namely the construction of the restoration trial structure to block artificial flows from the wetland. Surveys covered a range of sites and employed the use of single wing fyke nets. The nets were then left overnight and retrieved the following morning, where we recorded total numbers and lengths for each fish species. It has been very interesting both learning and seeing a range of new aquatic species that I would not get to see back in England.

Also getting to learn about threatened and invasive fish species and the different threats they may face in their life cycles was a good experience. Finally, being able to contribute to the conservation and protection of threatened species in Australia has been an amazing opportunity.

Finally, I would like to thank NGT for the internship opportunity and all the members of staff for being so welcoming and I look forward to the rest of my time here.

Tom Hiatt