Middle East 2015
During the last half of April this year Prosanta and I headed back for another trip to Kuwait. Last year we had visited LSU Museum associate Jim Bishop, who works at the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR), and brought back around 500 specimens for LSU that Jim had helped collect over the years. This year we were invited back out by KISR to teach an intensive short course on ichthyology for research scientists and government employees from the Arabian peninsula. The course was titled "Taxonomy and Identification of Fishes from the Arabian Gulf", and had around 20 students enrolled. Each day of class started with a lecture in the morning regarding systematic ichthyology, followed by an afternoon in lab where students got hands on experience identifying fishes that were caught in trawls earlier in the week. We showed the students how to differentiate between the common families in the area, and what to look for to determine the species they had. I taught a lecture on the geology and historical biogeography of the region, and Jim Bishop gave an excellent lecture on the history of ichthyology and collecting in the Arabian Gulf, which included him showing the class plates from his original prints of Forskal. It's not too often that you get to see original prints from a book that is several hundred years old, and everyone in the class was enthusiastic to see that. Overall the class went well, and in the future might be offered every several years. In addition, the specimens that were collected for the course were packed up and will be housed at the LSU Museum of Natural Science, further increasing our collection of fishes from the Arabian Gulf.
After the course concluded, Prosanta and I travelled to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates to visit with an acquaintance
of Jim's and collect more fishes. We met up with the lab of Dr. John Burt at New York University Abu Dhabi. John graciously showed us around town to the fish market and let us use his lab space for our work. The NYUAD campus is brand new, and was extremely nice. There are some species that you don't see in Kuwait that are found further south in the gulf by UAE, so it was good to get collections of these species too. While in UAE we also managed to take a side trip for a day to Dubai, where we got to go up the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. That was a real treat to see, and it's always good to have a day off in the field after working for a couple of weeks straight. Overall it was a very successful trip to the Middle East. It would not have been possible without the help of Jim Bishop, KISR, John Burt and his lab, and NYUAD. So a HUGE thanks goes out to those people. Hopefully we'll get to go out to this area of the world again in the near future.
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