HE describes himself as one who is shy and reserved.
You would not have suspected it if you were at his presentation at the University of the South Pacific last week where the topic has been something of interest to him since he was a boy.
Lekima Copeland is freshwater ichthyologist at the USP’s Institute of Applied Science (IAS). For us the uninitiated, ichthyology is the branch of learning dedicated to the study of fishes.
Born and bred in Fiji with his dad from Kiribati and his mum from the village of Kuku in the district of Bau in Tailevu, Lekima attended Marist Brothers’ Primary School, then Marist Brothers’ High School before attending USP.
As an undergraduate student, Lekima studied for and attained a Bachelor of Science degree majoring in marine science.
The eldest of five, he has two brothers and two sisters, said he was “blessed” after his master’s degree to be given an opportunity to be working at USP’s IAS.
Describing how he got started in this particular field, Lekima said: “I was always interested in science at a young age.
“During my high school years biology was one of my favourite subjects. I thank my high school biology teacher Mr Lekima Nasau for making biology class a fun experience for all his students at Marist.”
With a growing understanding of the interconnectedness of mankind’s activities and nature when he began studying at USP, Lekima said this only made him more curious about ecosystems.
“Finding out about the impact of mankind on Earth has pushed me to learn more about nature.
“I am passionate about fish ecology and taxonomy and I was very fortunate to be taught by the late marine studies curator Mr Johnson Seeto.
“He allocated space in the collection room for me to work on my specimens that I had collected during my MSc research in Nakorotubu, Ra and helped me in identifying several fishes I had collected from around Viti Levu and Vanua Levu.”
Lekima recently returned from a trip to Vanua Levu where he not only expanded his knowledge of his chosen field, but also helped locals understand more of their environment.
Suva (Fiji Times)