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Monday, November 06, 2006

Solomon Islander on a 4 week stunt with the Darwin Museum in Australia

A young Solomon Islander and fresh water biologist at the University of the South Pacific's Regional Hebarium, Mr David Boseto who hails from Choiseul Province, is currently in Australia for a 4 weeks attachment with the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory in Darwin.
Mr Boseto at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory in Darwin

Mr David Boseto was a postgraduate student researcher with the Institute of Applied Science since 2002. He has graduated with a Masters in Marine Science from the University of the South Pacific in April this year, specializing in fresh water fish. Now he is working as a fresh water biologist at the university.

According to Mr Boseto, his first trip to the Darwin Museum was in April last year when he and Mr Aaron Jenkins of Wetlands International spent a week at the Museum. That one week stunt was initiated by the fish curator of the museum, Dr Helen Larson, to offer special training on fish taxonomy and how to describe new fish taxa. It was during that short visit that Dr Larson told him that the museum will allocate some funds to bring him back to Darwin for a four weeks training. Dr Larson is now understood to have some time from her busy schedule in November, that is why Mr Boseto is sponsored to undergo that 4 weeks training in Darwin.

"I count this training as an honour for my contribution to the fish society of the Western Indo-Pacific. I started as a junior estuarine and freshwater fish biologist in 2002. During the course of my studies doing fish surveys in Fiji since 2002 till 2006 working under the supervision of Mr. Aaron Jenkins of Wetlands International, we have discovered seven new freshwater fish in Fiji. Furthermore, last year I was part of a freshwater fauna survey team in the Solomon Islands, in which we discovered one new freshwater fish and this year, Aaron and I went to Tetepare Island in the Solomon Islands, and we discovered three new freshwater fish species. All the freshwater fish discovered are new to Science and the fish world," said Boseto.

He added that in order to describe these species there is a need to go to museums to look at the close relative of the new fish species that were discovered in order to make comparison on why these fish are different from the other species that are already recorded. In addition, such attachment will help upgrade technical skills on how to describe the new species, and accessing technology which is lacking in Solomon Islands or Fiji, to aid in the description of new species. Moreover, such training will ensure supervision and guidance from renowned senior scientists.

"Our visit to the museum in April last year was primarily to describe three of the sicydiinae gobies we have discovered in Fiji. The three fish species are already described and now are in press for publication in a scientific journal early next year. My visit to the museum this month is special in a way because I brought another two new species from Fiji and a mysterious new fish species from the Solomon Islands. Aaron Jenkins will take the other three new species from the Solomon Islands with him to the Western Australian Museum in Perth, next month. We hope that we can describe all these new fish species and should be sending them off for publication later next year", added Mr Boseto.

The 4 weeks training attachment is made possible through partnership between the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Institute of Applied Sciences of the University of the South Pacific, and Wetlands International.

Mr Boseto revealed that Solomon Islands is a field laboratory with scattered Islands that have flora and fauna that are still to be discovered. One thing that is certain about Solomon Islands is that it lacks specialized taxa on the different flora and fauna that the country possess despite having general science graduates. Therefore, the country need to take a step further by supporting specialized trainings in the fields of interest.

"I can only talk about natural science and the need to develop more taxa specialists in our country. To date we have less than 10 aquatic and terrestrial taxa specialists in our country. We have a high biodiversity of aquatic and terrestrial flora and fauna second to Papua New Guinea. However, we are losing these fauna and flora because we do not know them due to lack of trained specialists. For each taxon we need to have specialized people so that they can do the work in our own country rather than depending on overseas specialists to come and do the work for our country. We need protection on these flora and fauna so that we can develop our local people to carry out studies on their field of interest."

"This is a great challenge for our country. Our young generation need to become inspired to tap into untapped areas to get specialized training. We need more plant biologists, bird biologists, insect biologists, frog specialists, fresh and marine fish biologists and many other taxa that we need to develop. We need people in these areas so that we can better understand our surroundings and those whom we shared the planet earth with. The more we understand and know them, the more, we will embrace and care for their well-being.

Mr Boseto flew from Fiji to Sydney last Wednesday and met some Solomon wantoks in Sydney before flying north to Darwin for another 4 hours 30 minutes.

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