Connecting with Nature: Gills Club
Started by shark scientists Dr Diana Pazmiño (Universidad San Francisco de Quito), Lauren Goodman (University of North Carolina Chapel Hill) and Yasuní Chiriboga, Gills Club aims to engage more girls in shark science, as part of our wider Galapagos ocean outreach goal to empower young people to generate and deliver conservation and sustainability projects.
Girls at Gills Club are given opportunities to see wildlife which they would otherwise not encounter and gain scientific skills, self-confidence and passion for protecting the wildlife of their Islands, led by their female mentors.
Classroom activities are interspersed with field work and lab work, giving the girls an integrated understanding of conservation science. During the last six months of 2019 the girls were involved in the following activities:
- Classroom: As well as learning about the work of famous marine scientists, the girls have been taught the importance of disciplined scientific methods – such as observation and research. They have come up with their own research questions, which will be answered during activities throughout the year.
- In the Field: The girls were taken to Cerro Tijeretas on San Cristobal where they swam and snorkelled whilst learning about quadrats and transects as tools to estimate marine abundance and diversity. During another field visit to Puerto Grande they were shown an eagle ray being captured and then released and learnt about the importance of monitoring and studying the nursery areas for skates, rays and sharks.
- In the Lab: At the Galapagos Science Center, the girls have been learning how to use a microscope and stereoscope, looking at tissues such as the brain cells, heart cells and muscle cells of skates, rays and sharks. Using underwater videos, they are starting to hone their fish identification skills.