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Scientists from around the world gather in Caithness for conference

7th July 2015

Photograph of Scientists from around the world gather in Caithness for conference

Scientists from around the world recently gathered in Thurso for an annual biological sciences meeting. The Larwood Symposium was hosted by the Environmental Research Institute (ERI) of the North Highland College UHI on behalf of the International Bryozoology Association. Delegates travelled from as far as New Zealand, Mexico, Brazil and the USA for the four day conference which included a tour of Caithness and field trip to Orkney.

The delegates, biologists and palaeontologists, came to discuss their research on bryozoans, tiny freshwater or marine invertebrates. They were welcomed to the conference and to the area by Director of the ERI Professor Stuart Gibb at local museum Caithness Horizons with a drinks reception.

Dr Jen Loxton of the ERI, and organiser of the Larwood Symposium said: "It has been absolutely wonderful to host such an eminent group of scientists here in the Highlands and Islands, and show off our fantastic natural environments. Even though the weather was challenging at times, everyone had a great time and was delighted by the wide biodiversity to be found on our coasts. I would also really like to thank our sponsors the UHI MERIKA Project, Rock Rose Gin, International Bryozoology Association, Society of Biology, Scottish Government and the Linnean Society, without whom this conference would not have been possible."

The round the world trip was definitely a worthwhile one for Dr Abby Smith of the University of Otago in New Zealand and treasurer of the International Bryozoology Association, she said: "I am delighted to be here at the 13th Larwood Symposium. This is a group that meets very seldom so it is extremely useful and important to talk and share with other bryozoologists as the likelihood is that we are the only ones at our institutions with this specialty."

As well as the two days of presentations at the North Highland College UHI's Flagstones facility, the scientists also visited tourist hot spots in Caithness such as Dunnet Beach, RockRose Gin, The Castle of Mey and Mary Ann's Cottage before boarding the ferry to Stromness. In Orkney, the group were able to enjoy some field work and SCUBA Diving to collect samples of bryozoans as well as taking the historic tour of the island visiting the Stones of Stenness, Ring of Brodger, Scara Brae and Maes Howe.

Susan Miller, a marine scientist student with the Talent Conservation Volunteers based in Orkney said: "This was my first time at a Larwood Symposium and it has been great! It has been really inspiring and I don't think there would be a question related to bryozoans that I could ask and that someone from the conference wouldn’t be able to answer."

The next meeting of the International Bryozoology Association will be in 2016 in Australia.

 

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