- Blog articles about my research
- All my scientific publications
- My whale shark research
- My shark research (non-whale shark)
- My sea turtle research
- Advice for budding shark biologists
- Student projects and volunteering opportunities (Under construction)
I grew up, like many others, watching Sir David Attenborough on TV, reading books about exotic animals, and poking things. Never really grew out of it.
Guess I was destined to be a biologist.
Although I was initially obsessed (and I don’t use the work lightly) with reptiles, during my undergraduate studies in New Zealand I felt increasingly drawn to the ocean.
I decided to move over to Australia for an Honours degree. I emailed the “shark guy” and the “crocodile guy” at The University of Queensland. The crocodile guy was going on sabbatical that year. The shark guy was keen to chat. And thus I ended up in Professor Mike Bennett’s lab in UQ for most of the next decade… sorry, Mike.
Life could have been very different!
Shark Biology & Ecology
My PhD studies ended up focusing on stingrays, the underappreciated flat sharks.
Rays get a bad rap. Sharks were pretty uncool, too, at when I first started working in the field (apart from the showboat white sharks), but even now people are little aware of the importance of rays. They’ve got a key role as benthic predator. They structure major ecosystems through their feeding habits (using water jets to excavate prey from sandy or muddy substrates). They’re also valuable in fisheries or tourism in many countries.
During my PhD work around Brisbane I surveyed the shark and ray communities living within intertidal waters. I focused in on two of the species that were most prevalent in this environment, the coral sea maskray (Neotrygon trigonoides) and the estuary stingray (Hemitrygon fluviorum), and looked at various aspects of their biology and ecology. Following this work I nominated the estuary stingray for listing on the Queensland Nature Conservation (Wildlife) Regulation. It was added as a Near Threatened species, so that was great.
I started splitting my time between Australia and Mozambique from 2005, when I started working on whale sharks. Not much was known on the elasmobranch fauna over there,
In 2012 I was invited to become a member of the IUCN Shark Specialist Group, and since 2016 I’ve been a regional co-chair within the Group, responsible for Sub-Equatorial Africa. I’ve published several Red List assessments for ray species, and most recently for the whale shark.
Most of my work these days though relates to the Earth’s biggest fish, whale sharks.
Marine Conservation & Education
My goal is to use science to develop and implement effective conservation initiatives. Over the last few years my work has focused on threatened marine species, particularly whale sharks, and I collaborate on manta ray and sea turtle research. I’ve also worked on fisheries management issues, particularly as they pertain to sharks and rays.
I’ve collated all my scientific publications here on the site. All are available for download.