Rolex scholar dives for science in Oban

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A marine science graduate from the University of Tasmania, Australia, has spent three weeks discovering the underwater nature of the waters around Oban.

Joanna Smart
Joanna Smart.

Joanna Smart is this year’s Australasian Rolex Scholar, awarded through the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society. Each scholar spends approximately one year working side by side with leaders in underwater fields. Experiences may last from a few days to over a month and Joanna chose to start the European segment of her world journey based with local diving contractor Tritonia Scientific Ltd.

‘I have tried to organise my scholarship year around the theme of underwater research and discovery,’ said Joanna. ‘Tritonia Scientific has a global reputation for using innovative methods to support underwater exploration and I was keen to find out more about some of their recent work.’

During her time in Oban, Joanna has been taught new approaches to ecological survey and mapping underwater by generating three-dimensional computer models of natural reefs. She has also learned how to conduct environmental studies in dense kelp forests and has assisted university researchers with underwater sampling.

‘It has been fascinating to find out about these new ways of conducting scientific investigation underwater,’ Joanna said. ‘And I shall be applying them to some of the other programmes I will be joining as my year continues.’

Joanna is the third Rolex Scholar to be hosted in Oban by the team at Tritonia Scientific.

Dr Martin Sayer, managing director, is a long-time supporter of the scholarship programme. ‘It is an excellent scheme and provides the opportunity for recent graduates to gain a wide experience of many types of diving,’ he said. ‘Hopefully, as she travels through the year, Joanna will see ways of developing a future career working underwater.’

Joanna now continues her European journey with visits to organisations in Italy, the Faroe Islands and Norway, where she will be working on projects exploring new forms of aquaculture. These include seaweed farming and the growing of vegetables in underwater enclosures.