Students from Exmouth District High School were given the chance to see what it’s like to be a marine scientist last week after stepping aboard RV Solander.

Solander is a research vessel owned by the Australian Institute of Marine Science and was in Exmouth as part of the fifth International Whale Shark Conference.

AIMS senior principal research scientist Dr Mark Meekan said it was rare for students to get to see how scientists worked and lived on a day-to-day basis.

“Aboard this vessel is where we do the pointy end of our research and it makes it so different from just reading about it in a textbook to actually getting to see where and how we do the work,” he said. Cruises on the vessel vary from a few days to two or three weeks, and the schedule is booked out a year in advance.

“We organise researchers from AIMS, sometimes from outside institutions and quite often from overseas, to come aboard and do collaborative research projects,” Dr Meekan said. That research includes diving on the reef to monitor coral and fish communities, putting out oceanographic moorings that monitor the current and temperatures and tag megafauna.

Dr Meekan hoped the students learnt there was some really interesting marine research going on in their own backyard.

“Hopefully by meeting some of scientists aboard, they learnt anyone can do research, anyone with the skill, determination and deep-seated interest in our environment can be a scientist,” he said.