Emerging Curators continue two-way knowledge exchange as part of the Kimberley Reef Connect Project

A group of Uunguu Rangers from Wunambal Gaambera Country in the North Kimberley have taken part in an Emerging Curators Workshop at the Western Australian Museum’s Collection and Research Centre to exchange cultural and scientific knowledge.

Uunguu Rangers, Damon Bundamurra, Tabitha Kowan, Desmond Williams and Colleen Mangolamara, worked closely with WA Museum’s Aquatic Zoology staff to learn more about the marine species collected during the group’s expedition to Wunambal Gaambera Wundaagu (Sea Country) in the North Kimberley Marine Park in November 2023. 

Along with learning more about specimen curation, taxonomy and coral health, the Rangers developed skills related to coral reef monitoring more generally.

WA Museum Curator of Marine Invertebrate Zoology Associate Professor Zoe Richards said the November fieldtrip secured thousands of marine specimens.

“These specimens now need to be stored, identified, curated, reported and shared, including taking images,” she said.

“The workshop involved a series of collection and laboratory-based activities at the WA Museum Collections and Research Facility and the Boola Bardip Museum exhibition space. In addition, the rangers have participated in some activated outdoor learning activities including snorkelling and fishing.”

The week-long workshop is part of a larger collaborative program that sees Western Australian Museum, Curtin University, Parks Australia and Wunambal Gaambera Aboriginal Corporation join forces to document marine biodiversity in the Uunguu Wundaagu Sea Country in northwestern WA.

Tabitha Kowan, Uunguu Ranger, Wunambal Gaambera Aboriginal Corporation said, “it has been really great to see all the Kimberley specimens from the trip last year and how well they are being looked after at the Museum.”

“I also enjoyed looking at the Kimberley artefacts, especially the ones made by our family members,” she said.

“Plus going snorkelling and looking at the coral, fish, shells and algae was really fun, although the water was a bit colder than what I am used to.”

Funded by the Australian Government through the Our Marine Parks Program, Kimberley Reef Connect is a collaboration between Curtin University, the Western Australian Museum, Wunambal Gaambera Aboriginal Corporation and Parks Australia.

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