This week’s “Ocean Defender”, Maarten De Brauwer, is a marine biologist at Curtin University, Perth, Australia. His main interests are rarity and extinction risk in marine fishes. He is currently researching into the ecology and socioeconomic value of critters important to the muck dive industry, and presented this topic at ADEX 2016’s Scuba360 Business Forum. We managed to catch up with him for a quick Q&A during the show:
What got you into marine biology?
I’ve always been fascinated by the ocean. When I was a kid, around seven years old, people used to ask me what I wanted to become and I said a diver. So I’ve always wanted to become a diver and it just went from there. Becoming a marine biologist was just a natural step.
What is your speciality in marine biology?
Well, I look at anything that is weird. Weird critters like frogfish, seahorses, ghost pipefish – fish you normally find on muck dive sites like Lembeh or Darwin.
What is the hardest thing about your job?
The hardest thing is just finding the critters, because they are so tiny, and just spotting them is probably one of the hardest things.
…And the best part of your job?
Well, I’m in Singapore now, just came from Indonesia, and heading to Philippines afterwards – lots of travelling and amazing places to talk about.
Has there been a defining low point?
Not one defining low point. There are always challenges when it comes to administration; lots of paperwork to be done, lots of permits to be [arranged]. When you’re tied to your desk for hours and hours trying to sort out paperwork, that gets on your nerves, but it’s got its rewards.
What can the average person do to help save the ocean?
Lots of stuff. Choices we make in everyday life, like choosing the type of fish that you eat, choosing which people you dive with, choosing how you dive – whether you touch stuff. It’s basic lifestyle choices.
For more of Maarten’s work, check out www.crittersresearch.wordpress.com