Melissa Boonzaaier

Hi Fellow Marine Invertebrate Lovers! 472468_3220222899547_33897810_oI am currently a doctoral candidate at the University at the Western Cape, based at the Iziko South African Museum in Cape Town.

I am an aspiring marine ecologist, with a wide spectrum of interests that include deep sea research and marine conservation planning. In 2011-12 I was a DST-NRF intern based with the Marine Group at Stellenbosch University under the supervision of Dr. Carol Simon.

My project during the internship examined shell-boring polydorids (Polychaeta: Spionidae) that infest shells of South African abalone (Haliotis midae) occurring in the wild from Cape Columbine in the Western Cape to the region in the Eastern Cape. The aim was to identify polydorids occurring on wild abalone as well as farmed abalone, as part of an epidemiological survey.Additionally, this study would serve to identify potentially problematic polydorids. These results were published in “Polydorid polychaetes (Spionidae) on farmed and wild abalone (Haliotis midae) in South Africa: an epidemiological survey” (Boonzaaier et al. 2014) in African Journal of Marine Science.

I am nearing the end of my PhD studies examining the distribution pattern of South African marine Bryozoa or moss-animals, occurring along the coast. This study includes Bryozoa taxonomy, describing potentially new species. This will also be the first study to look at the biogeographical distribution of Bryozoa along the coast, and using depth-related patterns to eventually highlight the much needed sampling in the deep-sea regions.