Born, raised and educated in South Africa, I studied Marine Biology and Oceanography at the University of Cape Town. My honours thesis analysed observer data from offshore hake trawling ships, mapping and quantifying the target and bycatch species caught and discarded. In this interesting marine setting I was also able to participate in annual monitoring and mapping of breeding oystercatcher pairs on Robben Island, the active protection of Malgas island's gannet colony and NGO work teaching ocean science and biology to disadvantaged school students out at sea.
While my interest in fisheries science remains, I have continued into practical, field-based, conservation. I dived into this work by participating in a Blue Ventures programme in Madagascar and was then employed as Head of Marine programmes for an NGO in the Maldives - Naifaru Juvenile. There I worked on implementing and growing a UNDP -GEF funded marine conservation programme on the local island Naifaru. As the only conservation programme run from a local, non-resort, island in the Maldives we were able to deliver environmental education directly to the community and run a centre for the rehabilitation and head-starting of sea turtles already removed from the wild by local people. In addition to these core activities we were able to expand conservation work by contributing to coral gardening initiatives (planning and EIA stages), manta ray tracking (submitting data to The Manta Trust), successful application for further UNDP-GEF grants and the training of local and international volunteers in sea turtle husbandry, marine life identification and reef survey techniques.
Now invested in desk-based research I hope to support and learn from conservation efforts in this new setting.
I am a research assistant for The Nature Conservancy's Mapping Ocean Wealth project, exploring novel techniques for collecting data on mangrove tourism at a global scale. I am currently analyzing and mapping mangrove tourism activity based on a survey of TripAdvisor reviews and, more broadly, investigating the viability of collecting such ecosystem-use information from user-generated data on social media platforms.