APEM - Rhianna recording some probe readings

APEM’s Rhianna Wheatley recording probe readings.

It was in Rhianna’s earliest days that she was first drawn to the water; fascinated by the unusual mola mola that inhabited Lisbon aquarium, searching for common shore crabs amongst the groynes of Hunstanton beach and being approached by wild bottlenose dolphins in Australia. All these experiences are just a small selection of the many that created the catalyst for her APEM career.

Rhianna’s passion for science and geography began at school, where she was attracted to subjects that helped her understand the natural world and satisfy her curiosity. It wasn’t until she went to university that she could truly focus on her passions, completing an integrated master’s in marine biology. Throughout her degree she was exposed to a magnitude of topics, ranging from deep sea ecology to coastal and estuarine oceanography. However, it was boat work opportunities she had on the River Test and Itchen where Rhianna truly found her passion.

Being outside of the classroom and labs felt like a breath of fresh air for Rhianna (literally!) where she could really get a hands-on approach in the field and make her own discoveries. This added to her desire for a fieldwork-based role. As she finished her degree during COVID there was a small delay in her progression to her field of choice, but it was of course worth the wait.

Rhianna explains that working as a Field Scientist at APEM means that no day or week is ever the same. In her second week, she looked at water quality, collecting water and invertebrate samples and water quality readings across marshlands and springs. Since then, she has also taken part in fish surveys at a reservoir, where she helped the team investigate fish content upstream and downstream using electric fishing techniques. Rhianna has also surveyed invasive species by setting and collecting crayfish traps, colonisers for invertebrates and taking samples for eDNA analysis.

Rhianna said:

I’m excited to continue to explore the diverse range of projects here, especially those in which I can further improve my fish identification skills. I have been lucky enough to experience a wide range of fishing techniques, at various locations, including electric fishing, seine netting and fyke netting, all of which I find fascinating with how the catch varies each time.

Naturally, Rhianna’s hobbies outside of work also show her love of the outdoors. Alongside her degree, Rhianna took the opportunity to learn to SCUBA dive, where she has progressed her skills to become a BSAC Dive Leader and assistant open water instructor. Outside of the water, Rhianna is an avid birdwatcher, taking photos of everything she sees.

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APEM are a global environmental consultancy providing independent advice and guidance to support government and environmental regulatory guidelines.