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Seaweek 2011: Spotlight on Marine Science

Marine Scientist Profile:

1. Name: Steffan Howe

2. Organisation / Company: Parks Victoria, Research and Management Effectiveness Branch.

3. Title of your Two bays Project: Multiple (marine pests research and surveys, habitat mapping, seabird and shorebird monitoring, community based monitoring and Under the Lens).

4. How long have you been working with Two Bays? 3 years.

5. Qualifications/ job title: PhD (coral eco-physiology)/ Manager Marine Science.

6. As a marine Scientist, why is the Two Bays project so important? It is a fantastic opportunity to access and undertake research and monitoring in the Marine National Parks and Sanctuaries. It is also a unique opportunity to meet with a wide range of stakeholders and the community and talk and learn about the important natural values in the bays and issues that affect the those values.

7. What is the “wow factor” that you would use to enthuse a young person about your chosen profession? There are many wow factors with being a marine biologist. The marine environment is beautiful and diverse, and we are always learning more the more we explore. I have been lucky enough to have worked in the marine environment in Victoria, South Australia, the Great Barrier Reef (Queensland), Zanzibar and the Eritrean Red Sea and have had some amazing experiences and met some fantastic people.

8. Same as question above, but replace your ‘profession’ with ‘Victoria’s Marine Environment’: The Victorian environment is very special. Many people don’t know how lucky we are to have such diverse plants and animals. We have over 12,000 species of plants and animals and around 85% of those are unique to southern Australia.



9. What led you to a career in marine Science? I did an assignent in grade 5 on whales and which is my first memory of being interested in marine biology. My interest continued through high school and university and in third year university I had the opportunity to do a coral reef ecology field course and went on to do postgraduate research on a coral in Port Phillip Bay.

10. Is there an interesting story that you can share that convinced you to study marine science? The coral reef biology field course in third year university really convinced me to study marine science. When I found out there was a coral in Port Phillip Bay with a range that extended north to Japan (i.e. the widest distribution of any ‘ree’ forming coral) I was fascinated and studied this coral during my Honours and PhD research.

11. What is the greatest threat to Victoria’s marine environment? One of the biggest threats to the marine environment is catchment related inputs, but issues like marine pests, pollution events, and illegal or unsustainable resource extraction are also key threats.

12. What is the most important thing we should do to protect our marine environments? Think about what we wash down the sink. If you own a boat follow good hygiene procedures so you don’t contribute to the spread of marine pests. Join a friends group. Spread the word about Victoria’s unique marine environment.

13. When you grow up, what do you want to be? A marine biologist!



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