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GTCP Team 2014/15

Welcome to our New Turtles!

We have an exciting new team of four scientific interns for the Gnaraloo Turtle Conservation Program season 2014/15! This season we have Bailey from Winnipeg (Canada), Toby from northern NSW (Australia), Ronan from Northern Ireland (United Kingdom) and Andrew from ACT (Australia).

Hello and welcome to the GTCP season 2014/15! My name is Melissa; please feel free to call me Mel. I will be the Program Assistant for the upcoming season 2014/15, and I am thoroughly looking forward to meeting everyone involved with Gnaraloo and working with the program. As a bit of a background to myself, I am a Marine Ecologist/Environmental Scientist by trade, with three years’ experience in the environmental consulting industry, primarily working in QLD and NSW on a wide range of aquatic projects. I have a passion for sea turtles, and I have volunteered with a Flatback tagging program in Port Hedland (WA), and worked a full season with Loggerheads in Greece. I studied at the University of Sydney (2010) where I completed an Honours thesis investigating fish assemblages and potential predation effects by Fur Seals within Batemans Marine Park, NSW. Through my study, travels, volunteering and commercial experience, I have gained a wide understanding of the significance of environmental monitoring programs and the important role of community education in environmental conservation. This season will be my first experience on the pristine Coral Coast of WA, and I consider myself and fellow-turtles to be amongst the luckiest people in the world for this amazing opportunity!!

Hello everyone, my name is Bailey Rankine. I’m from Winnipeg, Canada and am thrilled to be skipping out on our unbearable winters and instead spending it working on with the Gnaraloo Turtle Conservation Program season 2014/15. I once saw a documentary where divers in Hawaii were cutting sea turtles loose from fishing nets and I immediately decided that I needed to help save sea turtles too. Growing up in a location that’s just about as landlocked as you can get, my career goal wasn’t taken very seriously. The first step was getting to the coast. I completed a BSc at Vancouver Island University with a focus in Biology and Earth Science. I attended a five week Tropical Ecology Field School in Belize, which changed my life forever and provided me with the hands-on skills and experience I needed to break into the ‘turtle world’. Following completion of my undergraduate degree, I secured an internship with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. This program allowed me to work up-close and personal with the sea turtles; I was hooked. Now I am taking a break from my Master’s thesis in Aquatic Toxicology to once again work with sea turtles. I have never been to Australia before and could not be more excited to experience its uniquely beautiful coast and feel that indescribable gratification of protecting such a magnificent species.

My name is Toby, but most people call me Tobes. Originally I’m from the mid-north coast of NSW, where I grew up catching turtles in the Macleay River. While completing my undergraduate degree I lived and studied in Norway for a year, and also spent another six months in Barcelona, Spain. I’m currently on the tail-end of a Master of Marine Science and Management, which has seen me researching estuarine marine debris in the Coffs Harbour region. For the past year I’ve also worked as a field leader conducting biomass surveys on a number of avoided deforestation projects in remote western NSW. My passion for sea turtles was first sparked whilst volunteering in Costa Rica, where I was lucky enough to witness a leatherback nesting event. Since then I’ve been eager to get involved with sea turtle conservation again, and so am very excited to be on the GTCP team for the 2014/15 season!

I’m Andrew but feel free to call me Andy. I will be a Scientific Intern for season 2014/15. I am really looking forward to getting my hands dirty and counting some turtle tracks! A bit about myself, I am a marine ecologist with some experience in consulting as a GIS Analyst. I have a passion for the marine environment; a passion that lead me to Seychelles as an intern undertaking SCUBA reef and fish surveys last year. I also spent 3 months working in a dive store whilst completing my dive master qualification. I studied at the University of Wollongong with a little time spent at the University of Miami. I completed my honours thesis on bio security mitigation on maritime vessels. I am really excited and grateful for this opportunity with the GTCP and can’t wait to get started.

My name is Ronan, and I am from Northern Ireland. I have worked with reptiles in a variety of countries; mostly in Central America. After completing my BSc I worked in the Cayman Islands with the Blue Iguana and in Honduras with the Spiny-tailed iguana. I realised then I wanted to work with reptiles. After completing a post-grad qualification I travelled to Panama to work with turtles (mainly leatherbacks). I then went to Costa Rica to work with leatherbacks and green turtles, and two months later to tag Olive Ridley turtles. Following a hiatus of 18 months I travelled to Sal in the Cape Verde islands to tag loggerhead turtles. This is my most recent contract and I’m thoroughly looking forward to the next one – with loggerheads, greens and hawksbills with the GTCP. Working in Australia will give me a great new challenge as I haven’t worked on this continent before. In addition, I find Australia particularly interesting as the country has nesting beaches for other sea turtle species that I have never worked with before (including hawksbills and flatbacks). The GTCP is a very well organised project that not only studies the sea turtles but also educates the kids who will be doing my job in 10 years’ time. As Bill Gates (owner of Microsoft) said to Mark Zuckerberg (owner of Facebook) “the next Bill Gates could be in this classroom”.

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