Press Releases

May 27, 2003
Andrew Fields Is Southampton College's 37th Fulbright Scholar

Marine Science Graduate Will Study Manta Rays on Tiny Indonesian Isle

Darren Johnson
(631) 287 8313
Fax: (631) 283 4081

Southampton College marine science graduate Andrew Fields was awarded a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship recently. His award will allow him to perform an in-depth study of manta rays on a tiny Indonesian island next spring.

"Manta rays are amazing," Fields said. "They are one of the ocean's largest non-predatory fish, but few studies have been done on them."

Fields, 22, becomes the College's 37th Fulbright winner in the past 28 years, an incredible number for an institution of Southampton's size.

Fields will be based in the fishing and whaling village of Lamalera on Lembata Island, where manta ray schools are being eradicated off the coast for food, herbal remedies and their skins. Modern boats and equipment have resulted in a 1000 percent increase in manta ray hauls for local fishermen.

"Without a control on this fishing, the manta ray population of the area is in grave danger," Fields said. He feels that his study is needed right away, before the manta ray population becomes even more endangered. By conducting a detailed census of local manta rays, which have wingspans as wide as 20 feet, Fields can offer solutions for saving this species. He will work with an Indonesian liaison from the World Wildlife Fund to help get the proper access permits and become acquainted with the region.

"With a better understanding of the island's fishery, there is a chance that it can become a sustainable resource used to serve the people of Lamalera for many years to come as well as serve as an example to other fisheries of how management can work," Fields said.

The annual competition for Fulbright grants, sponsored by the United States Department of State, the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board and the Institute of International Education, support graduate study or research abroad in academic fields. The grants are used to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries through the exchange of personnel, knowledge and skills.

Fields, who currently is a lab manager at Southampton College after graduating in 2002, worked closely with Prof. Bob Danziger in developing his Fulbright proposal. The College, which promotes such one-on-one learning with faculty members, also stresses hands-on study through internships and co-ops. Fields prepped for this Fulbright assignment with semesters studying fish populations at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory at the University of Maryland and the Milford Lab in Milford, Conn. He attended Providence High School in Charlotte, N.C., and is the son of Randy and Ann Fields of Langhorne, Pa.