Photos of readers

Well, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, and comrades, this is the last “readers’ photos” feature I have. You won’t leave the tank empty, will you? To rectify this dire situation, simply send me a couple of photos of you (preferably in lockdown) with appropriate captions.

Today’s reader is David Hughes (I’m always amazed at the range of talents and interests in the readers).  I’ve indented David’s captions:

Earlier this year, in that distant pre-Covid era, you were good enough to post some of my wildlife photos from India. You’re always requesting photos of WEIT readers, so I thought I’d audition for that slot too. I don’t have any pictures of myself during Covid lockdown, and they’d be pretty dull anyway, so I’ve attached a couple from my working career. I hope they’ll be a bit more interesting.

Quick biography: I’m a marine biologist working at the Scottish Association for Marine Science, located just outside the town of Oban on the Scottish west coast. My job is now exclusively teaching. I’m no longer active in research, but when I was, my job gave me the chance to study some remote and interesting marine ecosystems.

The photo below was taken on the deck of a research vessel. I’m washing deep-sea sediment samples through a sieve to filter out the tiny worms, molluscs, crustaceans and other animals that inhabit the seabed. Animals living in deep-sea sediments are mostly very small, so we have to use very fine mesh (down to 0.25 mm) to retain them. You can probably tell from my attire that this picture wasn’t taken in Scotland. It’s actually from a research cruise I took part in some years ago to the tropical Pacific, off the eastern coast of Papua New Guinea, where we were surveying the impact of mining waste disposal on the deep-sea environment.

This one was taken in Scotland, about 10 m down on the bottom of Loch Creran, a sea loch just north of Oban. It illustrates the other major type of research I was involved with, namely field studies of the ecology of benthic communities along the Scottish west coast. Here I’m positioning a video camera to record animal activity around reefs built by the polychaete tubeworm Serpula vermicularis. Tubeworm reefs are very rare in Scotland, and Loch Creran has the best and most extensive examples.

The reefs were featured in an episode of the BBC TV series Coast, with me appearing as one of the local “experts”. You can witness my 15 seconds of TV fame here [JAC: David makes his first appearance at 1:32.]



  1. merilee
    Posted July 30, 2020 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Fascinating? You don’t have nearly the Scottish accent of the narrator.

    • David Hughes
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 7:57 am | Permalink

      I’m originally from Liverpool, so UK-based listeners may discern my residual “scouse” (i.e. Liverpudlian) flat vowels. I’ve lived in Scotland for over 30 years, but English incomers like me never pick up the accent, just as Scots who move south of the border never lose theirs.

  2. rickflick
    Posted July 30, 2020 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Tube worm city! Seems to play the ecological role of the many coral found in tropical seas. Marvelous career. Congratulations.

  3. jezgrove
    Posted July 30, 2020 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    This feature never ceases to fascinate me – thanks for sharing your photos and story, David!

  4. Mark R.
    Posted July 30, 2020 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Another WEIT gravel inspector! Fascinating creatures and occupation.
    “Just north of Oban”. Never been to Oban, but I love their Scotch.
    Thanks for your contribution.

    • merilee
      Posted July 30, 2020 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      Haven’t “seen” gravelinspectoraiden in ages!

      • rickflick
        Posted July 30, 2020 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

        He must have gone down in a cave to do inspection and not yet finished. Must be a mountain of gravel.

        • merilee
          Posted July 30, 2020 at 4:28 pm | Permalink


      • Mark R.
        Posted July 30, 2020 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

        He commented a week ago or so…I forget what the post was about. But yeah, he hasn’t been around much. And I wonder where Michael Fisher is?

        • Mark R.
          Posted July 30, 2020 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

          Or was it Fischer?

        • rickflick
          Posted July 30, 2020 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

          He’s probably writing a 3 volume autobiography with every paragraph properly researched and footnoted. 😀

          • Mark R.
            Posted July 30, 2020 at 4:46 pm | Permalink


        • Peter (Oz) Jones
          Posted July 30, 2020 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

          I too miss the forensic skills of Michael.

          One of the features of this site is the range of knowledge of the commenters.

          And it is a place that I feel comfortable posting a comment. Well done Prof for maintaining such civil discourse.

  5. GBJames
    Posted July 30, 2020 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Oban. Yet another reason for me to grieve the covid-induced loss of my trip to Scotland this year.

    • Posted July 31, 2020 at 8:32 am | Permalink

      I have spent many years of my life, off and on, living in that lovely town. First as a prawn creeler, then as a proprietor of the local tackle shop. later, I went back to sell life assurance, and finally (so far) went back to run a guest house.

      Now retired and living in the East Neuk of Fife, but I still miss Oban.

      • GBJames
        Posted July 31, 2020 at 9:55 am | Permalink

        I was so looking forward to some of those fresh prawns. F*king covid.

  6. Posted July 30, 2020 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Very cool. Love those worm cities.

  7. C.
    Posted July 30, 2020 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    I’m amazed at all the talented readers too. All I do is putter around my damn yard looking at flowers and turtles. I even bore myself sometimes but the rest of you are amazing.

  8. Heather Hastie
    Posted July 30, 2020 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    That was wonderful! We had to choose whether we pursued hard science or the social sciences at the age of 15. I’d had really bad science teachers and a love of history, so that’s the direction I went. I’ve known for decades now though that if I’d gone down the science route, I would have ended up in marine biology.

  9. Paul S
    Posted July 31, 2020 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Marine research, a dream career. Covid has postponed my dive adventures for the near future. You can never have too much time in the water.

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