If Someone asks where my office is based in Durban (South Africa), the simple answer is usually 'on the beach'. As a marine ecologist (taxonomist at heart), many days are spent on the beach being sand blasted or rained on while trying to complete one of the annual tasks the provincial conservation agency has set for me. Last weekend, together with my dedicated assistant (actually my husband), I completed a monthly sampling trip Reunion Rocks, just south of Durban. The weather was wonderful and the echinoderms on the rocks also played their part in a successful field trip with the exception of the asteroids who never came out to play. Various echinoderms were found and counted, except the brittle stars who were sacrificed for the project. The biggest surprise of the day was the ‘come-back’ of Tripneustes gratilla, who has not frequented the rockyshores of KwaZulu-Natal since late 2007. I have attached some photographs of some species that were found.

Mark - Checking all the specimens were in the bag

Tripneustes gratilla - Has not been seen in KZN since late 2007

Ophiomastix sp. found on Reunion rocks, south of Durban, South Africa

Sea Cucumber being baked in the sun during the low tide

In Belgium, today was the last day before the carnival holidays...Traditionaly school children then go to school in a costume; a witch, a gnome, a princess, etc.

We decided to act normal and went on with our business of digitizing ossicles of aspidochirotid type specimens, but today we put on a slightly more joyful outfit that we received from Aurore, a GTI/ABIC student from Ivory Coast.

Oh yes, the little dance performed is on the occasion of our finding of this 'snow-flake' ossicle in the cloaca of Stichopus japonicus var. typicus.

Mark O'Loughlin and Didier VandenSpiegel say goodbye to 2010, the UN International Year for Biodiversity, with an impressive publication in which they erect the new genus Rowedota, recognize 8 apodids new to science, review three apodid genera and discuss a number of long-outstanding nomenclatural issues.

O’Loughlin, P.M. and VandenSpiegel, D. 2010. A revision of Antarctic and some Indo-Pacific apodid sea cucumbers (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea: Apodida). Memoirs of Museum Victoria 67: 61–95. (links to journal)

From 18 to 29 October the tenth Conference to the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity took place in Nagoya, Japan. I was on the spot to help negotiate agenda item 6.6 on the Global Taxonomy Initiative (GTI) on behalf of the EU and its 27 member states (Belgium holding the Presidency to the EU in the second half of 2010).

But one day I ended up in the wrong chair, so adaptability was key.

With a lot of persuasion, Reen managed to get both Frank and Claude in cyberspace. Now they're really rocking;-)