Marvet’s 2012 Grand Cayman workshop was a fantastic two week summer course encompassing aquatic animal and tropical conservation medicine. Experts in the field conducted morning lectures ranging from coral reef health to water quality to physical exams and anesthesia procedures on marine invertebrates, teleosts, elasmobranchs, sea turtles, and marine mammals. Afternoons were packed full of hands on experience, such as physical exams on sea turtles and dolphins. Several afternoons involved wet labs and necropsies on various fish, sea turtles, aquatic birds, green iguana, and a dolphin.
There was ample opportunity for practicing physical exams, anesthesia techniques, venipuncture, endotracheal intubation, and Esophagostomy tube (E-tube) and catheter placements. Additionally, a group project was assigned in which we had to record data on an area of endangered Acropora cervicornis (Staghorn coral) while scuba diving! Working in two teams, we divided the area in half and assigned various jobs for recording overall health, measuring diameter, assessing degree of bleaching, and documenting the coral’s location via triangulation. Leisurely evenings included ocean view dinners, kayaking after dark on a bioluminescence tour, and a dusk dive along the North Wall, seeing three eagle rays.
One free day was allotted in which we ventured on a morning dive exploring swim-throughs and were completely surrounded by a school of silversides. To top it off, the afternoon was spent at Stingray City. The workshop was the perfect blend of intriguing lectures, plenty of hands on experience, and free evenings to explore the beautiful Grand Cayman Island. This course was a remarkable experience and confirmed my interest in aquatic and conservation medicine.