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The Isle of Man Natural History and Antiquarian Society wants to help students study subjects of Manx interest.

Two £250 Marshall Cubbon bursaries are to be awarded – one for natural history and one for historical or cultural studies.

The first two recipients of the bursaries were Katie Kewley, of Glenfaba Road, Peel, and Haley Dolton, of Kidlington, Oxford.

Katie is studying for a PhD at the Centre for Manx Studies and already has a BSc (hons) in geology from the University of Edinburgh and an MA in Manx studies from the University of Liverpool.

Her PhD is focused on the Isle of Man’s unusual collection of roughened and truncated butt-polished stone axe heads.

The title for her PhD studies, conducted under Dr Harold Mytum of the University of Liverpool and the Centre for Manx Studies, is ‘The Manx Stone Aseheads Project: interconnection or isolation? The evidence from stone axeheads for the Manx Neolithic in its Irish Sea context’.

Katie has been studying the Manx axehead collection since 2008. She has now reached the point where she needs to compare the island examples with axeheads found elsewhere in the UK and Ireland.

The society’s bursary has helped her to cover some of her travel costs cover some of the cost of food, accommodation and transport while she traveled around the British Isles viewing axehead collections housed in university department collections and museums.

She also visited the main areas from which the stone for axeheads is believed to have been sourced, particularly where these are around the margins of the Irish Sea.

The second recipient, Haley Dolton, is studying for a doctorate of biological sciences at Aberdeen University.

Her bursary has also been used towards travel costs to and from the island. Haley spent the summer carrying out research with and on behalf of the Manx Basking Shark Watch (MBSW), run by Jackie and Graham Hall, during this year’s Manx basking shark season.

Her PhD research project, conducted with Dr Les Noble, will examine the social aspects and health of the island’s basking sharks at a time when there is concern over the increasingly sporadic visits of these incredible marine creatures to Manx waters.

Haley was using a thermal imaging camera to assess whether the nicks and marks on basking sharks used by researchers to identify individual animals (and necessary for photographic identification) are more distinguishable by this method, and whether any other distinguishing marks show up by this means that are not identifiable with the naked eye.

Haley points out that thermal imaging cameras have already proved useful to those studying cetaceans such as whales and dolphins, as well as pinniped species (aquatic animals with legs ending in fins) such as seals, and so if it proves a success with the basking sharks, it will be of great use to the work of MBSW.

By revealing the temperature of individual basking shark’s dorsal fins after the process of scouring the water for plankton, it will also help to gauge the relative health of different animals. As this will also be the first time that a thermal imaging camera has been used on a shark, the intention is to publish the results of the study to help those researching the identification and health of these creatures in the future.

For more than 125 years the Isle of Man Natural History and Antiquarian Society (IOMNHAS) has researched and investigated the history and culture of the island.

Many members pursue their own research and, with other experts, are invited to make the results known in the society’s winter lecture series and summer site visits.
Marshall Cubbon was a leading member of this society’s committee for almost 60 years. As former director of the Manx Museum, he had a lifelong interest in the history and culture of the Isle of Man and he devoted his life to furthering our knowledge and understanding of the island’s natural and cultural heritage.
To further advance the aims of the society, and in memory of Marshall Cubbon, each year two bursaries of up to £250 each are to be awarded.

Those eligible are any students (undergraduate or postgraduate) who are researching a Manx-related topic at a recognised institution of higher education.

Applications should be sent to the society by January 31.

Full details on how to apply can be found on the society’s web pages at www.manxantiquarians.com.




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