We are a group of students from Juniata College (Pennsylvania, USA) studying marine science at FERAL (Foundation for Ecological Research and Advocacy) based in Pondicherry, India. Our program is focused at broadening our understanding of the cultural, social, and scientific aspects surrounding oceans and India in general. Our time here at ANET has served to bolster our knowledge of coastal marine systems and mangrove ecosystems as well as how local and commercial populations affect these systems. The program consisted of lectures, field activities, and built in time to pursue our own individual research projects, which took place in the mangroves and the intertidal zone, ecosystems unique to this area. The field activities included a day of diving in the nearby coral reefs, trips to Port Blair and the surrounding area, and a hike around Rutland Island.
As undergraduate science students, one of the most exciting aspects of ANET was the opportunity to design and implement our own research projects. Some of the projects included: regeneration of mangrove trees, mudskipper density and behavior, and handedness in male fiddler crabs. We were each given four days to collect data and time to analyze the data, with Tasneem overseeing our projects. The ability to take part in research in such a remote and exceptional environment is an incredibly valuable experience which will help with future research and occupational prospects.