Duration of Internship: April 2021 – June 2021
Funded by ERASMUS+

Qualifications
B.Sc. Marine Biology and Coastal Ecology, University of Plymouth (2018 – 2022)

During Eliya’s placement year for her undergraduate course (BSc) she completed a three-month internship with us at MER. Even though Eliya’s placement was in the midst of COVID she was still able to assist on multiple projects for us and gain vital skills essential for her university course. Some examples of the skills she gained are: How to use a Spot X Squid Pro Camera (used for ground truthing); Species identification of fish collected in a fish survey for the scientific monitoring program of artificial reefs in MPAs; Collection of plankton samples; How to sample and sort seagrass; How to effectively count seagrass shoot density through a standardised method; How to effectively remove and collect seaweed samples in the field; how to conduct a turtle survey (in water and out); Fish identification while diving and snorkelling; and how to conduct an in-water transect looking at % cover via taking photos of quadrats.

Mainly Eliya assisted with Aquaculture monitoring through macrofaunal sampling in the laboratory. This entailed sorting through samples previously collected, and extracting polychaetes, molluscs, crustacea and various other organisms which needed to be analysed and identified by a taxonomist. The data collected from these samples were then used to assess the ecological status of the station where the sample was collected (around an aquaculture farm). Additionally, collaboratively with the rest of the intern team Eliya also was tasked with producing literature reviews to assess the negative environmental impacts of different sectors of the European Habitats Directive. As a team they assessed aquaculture, fisheries and marine litter.

She stated “Being able to travel to Cyprus and seeing first-hand the crisis that the Mediterranean sea is in; highlights to me how vital organisations such as MER are in the conservation of our marine ecosystems. To be able to protect and conserve the ecosystem, it involves organisations such as MER to monitor and research the waters surrounding Cyprus. Through completing projects ran by MER it helps to provide the data and evidence needed to show how these waters are deteriorating and what can be done to help them. These projects can span from macrofaunal sorting of samples collected around aquaculture farms, to removing seagrass samples to help map and evaluate important habitats in the European Habitats Directive. Through working closely with MER it has allowed me to observe first-hand how such projects are conducted while gaining vital skills which will benefit me greatly in the industry. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at MER and working closely with the team and hope to keep in contact with them in the future.”