A dissection and a trip to Oz!

As ever, the last few weeks in New Zealand have been as exciting and varied as the rest. I recently experienced the best lab of my undergraduate degree. A whale and a dolphin had sadly stranded on 2 nearby beaches, and were already dead by the time members of the public discovered them. The co-ordinator of my Biology and Behaviour of Marine Vertebrates paper amazingly organised for the class to not only witness, but also to assist, in the dissection and post-mortem of these 2 magnificent but unfortunate creatures! It was a real honour to be in the presence of these marine mammals and learn first-hand about how they have adapted to an underwater lifestyle.

I’ve also been horse-trekking and ice-skating, yet there are still so many things I haven’t done like visit the Cadbury Factory, climb Mount Cook, eaten at Fleur’s restaurant, skydived in Queenstown, visited the volcano, caves and glow worms at Rotorua… still, they’re all excuses for me to come back one day (as if the stunning scenery and relaxed lifestyle wasn’t enough!).

Oh also… I passed my driving test here in New Zealand where there are less people, the roads are quieter and it’s cheaper to do! And my NZ license can simply be exchanged for a UK license on my return!

I visited my distant relatives, Neatta and Jim, in Perth, Western Australia. They’re in their 70’s and have lived in Perth for 33 years, but it’s like they’ve never really left Scotland. Their accents are so strong that I found myself reverting back to my old slang Scottish tongue with a vengeance after almost 12 months or trying to speak clearly to other international students! We had a flutter at the Burswood Entertainment Complex which houses a 24 hour casino (Perth is not somewhere to go if you’re on a student budget, it’s a very affluent city (and a beautiful one) – luckily I didn’t realise this until it was too late and I was already there!).

From Perth, I took a coach tour up North and fulfilled my dream of making a pilgrimage to the stromatolites in Shark Bay (living structures created by one of the earliest forms of life on the planet, and in the universe!). They are said to be around 3500 million years old and are the simplest life forms to use photosynthesis to provide food and oxygen. They provided the early Earth with most of its oxygen atmosphere billions of years before plants appeared. I must admit, I took a quiet moment to thank the stromatolites, for it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here today! Yes, I know what you are thinking…!

The trip also included a visit to the famous friendly dolphins at Monkey Mia. They have been coming right up to the shore for many years, they are fed a minimal amount of fish (which is closely regulated by the Department of Environment and Conservation) so that they must also go and forage in the wild to find enough fuel to survive. The seasonal volunteers that prepare the buckets of fish hand pick a limited number of individuals to offer a fish to one of the dolphins by hand. How thrilled was I to be one of them!?

But all good things must come to an end. I have just sat the worst 2 exams of my life and am officially broke. I’m seriously considering  being paid $1000 to be a hairdresser’s model for a complete head shave!!! I think I could cope with wearing a wig or a bandana for a while….


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