Clarence and Clemmie: Our time in the sun!

The intrepid CACHE mascots, Clarence and Clemmie, report on their time spent in Portugal:

“Talk about contrast! After our visit to Antarctica, we got to spend some time with Rita Pereira at the Centre of Marine Sciences (CCMAR), at the University of Algarve, Portugal! Sunshine! Rita is responsible for managing the recruitment and career development administration for the Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) that have been recruited to the CACHE project, and she writes reports, organises workshops and training events, among other things.

CCMAR is a top research centre in Portugal with around 250 members and is celebrating its 25th anniversary. CCMAR’s mission is to promote research and education on processes in the marine environment with an emphasis on biological interactions and the sustainable use of resources. We can say they take their job very seriously.

During our stay we had a chance to meet some of the other CCMAR residents, namely: sea cucumbers, zebrafish, sea-horses, cuttlefish, corals, algae, and we learned a lot with them. For instance, did you know that:

  • CCMAR is at the cutting edge in the development of artificial diets for cuttlefish?
  • A couple of years ago a team of CCMAR researchers managed to get sea-horses to reproduce successfully for the first time ever in captivity?
  • CCMAR researchers are studying the potential of sea cucumbers for aquaculture and are breeding them in captivity? These approaches are important for protection and restoration of wild populations.
  • Corals reefs are in danger and understanding and monitoring this system is providing important insights into the climate and climate change.

Not only was everyone super nice to us, but the place is always busy with scientists, students, technicians and visitors entering the labs or arriving from fields missions… oh yes they have an extraordinary ecosystem in their backyard….. The Ria Formosa . It is really amazing and we met lots of our relatives that flourish in this environment. We were very pleased to know that respect for the environment, sustainability and the sea economy are priorities for this site. In fact our kind is highly appreciated in Faro, but no one would tell us why? However, we discovered it involves garlic and coriander….. actually, shellfish farming is a major activity in the Algarve and 80% of the Portuguese clam exports originate in these waters!

Luckily, Rita found some time between her long hours sitting at her desk to take us to the Ria Formosa (sorry Rita but administration is not very exciting when you have the Ria Formosa only 1 km away from you!).

Here we are asking Rita for the 27th time: ‘When are we going to visit the Ria Formosa?’

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We took some time off at the weekend, because Sofia and Francisca (Rita’s girls) were struggling to take us off their laps, but it is not our fault if we are irresistible is it?

 

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Another big development during our time with CCMAR was that one of our photos had been entered in CCMAR’s photo contest ‘By the eyes of CCMAR’ and was selected to feature in the final exhibition. The purpose of this photo competition was to present some of the best pictures taken by CCMAR researchers during 2015. The exhibition is on show in the central Library of the University of Algarve between the 17th and 30th of May and then during June the it will move to the Municipal Library.  In September it then be moved to Mértola’s city hall, a village 72km from CCMAR.  The exhibition is composed of 40 pictures representing the science and researchers at CCMAR during 2015. And we are representing CACHE! We are so vain!”

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