Who am I?
Marine Dynamics has always been near and dear to my heart. Having first visited as a volunteer in 2007 and helping out on the odd occasion in 2008, I moved permanently to Gansbaai in 2009 and spent the next four years researching white sharks and playing a full role in the companies’ ecotourism operations.
During this time, we published several papers, including the first population estimate for white sharks in the region, filmed documentaries for Shark Week, National Geographic and BBC Shark among others and produced several theses’ either from our own research team or through supervision of others that visited as interns or volunteers.
It was my involvement in the later, playing a role in the early stages of the careers of the next generation of marine scientists, that I found most rewarding. And so, when I was given the opportunity to become an ambassador for the newly formed Marine Dynamics Academy, I jumped at the chance.
Representing Marine Dynamics Academy at AMSA 2019
I now play an active role in the Australian marine science community, based at Murdoch University in Perth. When the showcase event of the year, the Australian Marine Science Association (AMSA) conference was announced in our back yard in Fremantle, I thought this would be the perfect place to represent Marine Dynamics Academy as both a local researcher, and as a scientist who’s had a large amount of experience based in South Africa. I applied for both an exhibitor’s licence on behalf of MDA, and a student entrance to present my latest PhD chapter, placing camera tags on the fins of white sharks in Gansbaai.
I was joined in Fremantle by MDA Alumni Katherine Dyball, who had only returned from South Africa a few weeks earlier. Together we set up shop to spread awareness on the MDA’s goals and vision to protect threatened marine wildlife and create a more sustainable natural environment for future generations, projects you can become a part of by applying for an internship with the Academy. The conference had over 570 delegates, and we met people from across the country in a diverse array of governance, management, research and academic positions. I was able to present a pitch talk for our exhibition in a plenary on day one, and my research talk was one of the closing presentations of the conference, while we operated our stand throughout.
The conference was a fantastic success, and next, we hope to build on our new network of connections, visiting universities on both sides of the coast and spreading the word on the opportunity to be a part of the Marine Dynamics family further. AMSA Conferences are an annual event so we may well be a feature in next years conference at Macquarie University, Sydney in 2020.
Other events and speakers
A final event of the week took place on International Shark Awareness Day in Mandurah, where Peel Bright Minds were hosting an event in honour of shark conservation.
I was an invited speaker and spoke of how we’re using new technology to uncover cryptic shark behaviours and was joined by co shark researchers Melissa Marquez and Naima Lopez of Curtain University and the University of Western Australia respectively. Peel Bright Minds specialise in community outreach in the Mandurah area, and it was great to meet people of all ages but especially those from the younger generations, at least one of which as guaranteed us she will be a future marine Biologist!
This was an incredible event to be a part of, especially as a representative of Marine Dynamics Academy. Hopefully there’ll be more stories like this in the coming years.
Footnote: Oliver Jewell is a former member of the Marine Dynamics team and remains an Associate Researcher of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust and an Ambassador for Marine Dynamics Academy.