“I originally chose Liverpool due to it being ranked highly for undergraduate marine biology. Additionally, I knew the city has a vibrant culture and is small enough to make it easy to meet people. As a whole, the facilities looked great, which obviously represented a lot of continual investment by the university into the School of Environmental Sciences.
I would say that the most enjoyable parts of my courses were the modules on animal behaviour as this was what I enjoyed and ended up focussing on. The field courses were also very fun, and whilst I have now swapped the rocky shores of Britain for the sandy beaches of Mozambique, I still complete transects on a daily basis!
I currently direct Underwater Africa, a charity which harnesses volunteer researchers to augment the data collected by our team of researchers at the Marine Megafauna Foundation. As part of the program, I am currently completing my PhD on the movements of bull sharks within the Inhambane province of Mozambique. This involves the deployment of acoustic tags and tissue sampling of individuals for genetic and stable isotope analysis. Additionally, I undertake SCUBA based reef transects to examine the factors influencing the sightings of reef associated elasmobranchs and sea turtles. We also have large programs focussing on manta rays and whale sharks, involving acoustic and satellite telemetry, tissue sampling and individual identification and matching utilising unique spot patterns and an automated algorithm. Finally, we have cetacean identification programs and partner with Odysea to tissue sample the seasonal humpbacks to examine connectivity of populations, elucidate the level of pollutants, and develop a new way to genetically age individuals to combat the arguments of the whaling industry.
My degree actually prepared me incredibly well for work in the field. When comparing the training I received to others who completed their degrees elsewhere, mine definitely comes out on top. This is especially true for software. Within my degree I completed two modules focussing on GIS and another two on R statistics. This was incredibly useful when getting into work. Not many people can utilise a statistics package as it is not the most fun to study, but it makes you a really great candidate for a job. Other than that the general level of knowledge I left with put me in a great position to be able to complete my own studies and interpret results.”