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Author/Editor: N. Sivasothi
Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore.


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Thu 24 Jun 2004

Elasmobranch-gut tapeworm researchers visit wholesale fish markets

Category : visitors

Janine Caira (U. Connecticut or U. Conn) & Kirsten Jensen (U. Kansas, formerly U. Conn) are in the region for "A survey of Sharks and Rays of Borneo and the Metazoan Parasites". Peter Ng and N. Sivasothi met them at a database workshop in Kuala Lumpur recently, and invited them down to survey the shark and ray catch at wholesale markets of fishing ports in Singapore.

They arrived on Sat (22 May 2004) evening and made their first trip after midnight, to the market at Jurong Fishing Port. Jurong is the international landing site for boats operating in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Fish are landed here from Indonesia, imported by land from Malaysia and Thailand, and by air from countries like Australia, Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Cestodes decompose very quickly in dead fish, especially in tropical waters. To have a good chance of sampling these parasites, the fish should preferably be dead no longer than an hour. However, the host (i.e. the sharks and rays) are also of interest, as there are still new species and morphological variants. Janine and Kirsten decided to try their luck and manage to add some valuable specimens to the museum's collection.

Janine Caira (standing) and Kirsten Jensen (squatting) examining some rays (Himantura sp.) at the wholesale fish market at Jurong Fishing Port on Sunday morning.

Accompanying them on these midnight-dawn runs were museum staff, students and volunteers, some to experience and help (despite the odd hours!) and others on specific projects requiring seafood sampling.

About half the supply at Senoko Fishing Port originates from local fish trawlers, in-shore vessels, kelongs and fish farms. However, the group was denied access to the market as they were thought to be on a group tour (!) which requires AVA approval. Entry for purchase is actually allowed, just not group tours, so researchers will try again in future. The markets are closed on Monday mornings.

Janine and Kirsten also visited the Raffles Museum's gallery and collections with great interest. Back at U Conn, their scientific and teaching collections with origins of over a century eventually gave rise to Connecticut State Museum of Natural History at UConn, etablished in 1985. Scattered in five locations around their campus, Janine Caira headed a team that submitted the grant proposal, planned and executed the consolidation and move to a state of the art 8,000 square foot facility. By 2001, the museum was housed in its own building. In 2004, the museum further announced plans to establish the Connecticut Archaeology Center.

Posted at 9:18AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,