I have been an Honorary Research Fellow at Bangor since May 2015. I gained my undergraduate degree in Marine Sciences (Southampton, 1995) and an MSc in Ecosystems Analysis and Governance (Warwick, 2000), where I undertook novel research on the potential use of parasites to identify populations of a coastal benthic shark. Ten years later (2009-12) I undertook Bangor's first ever PhD by Published Works on the taxonomy, diversity and fisheries of the sharks and rays of the Persian Gulf (graduated 2013). I have been an invited member/Vice Chair/Vice Co-Chair of the Indian Ocean region of the IUCN Shark Specialist Group since 2007, where I contribute to Red List Assessments and major initiatives such as the Global Sawfish Conservation Strategy. At Bangor I provide guest teaching on elasmobranch biodiversity, fisheries, and conservation for the 3rd year undergraduate module 'Sharks and their Relatives', and recently developed a successful lab practical on the identification of elasmobranchs and their fins. I also provide guest teaching to MSc students, and am involved with MSc projects on elasmobranchs.
My research complements a double-life as a marine ecologist outside of academia, where I have gained invaluable 'real-world' experience in two main phases. The first of these was conducting extensive fieldwork, from the intertidal to far offshore, on fish and benthos (UK, Ireland, Kuwait, UAE, Caspian, Falkland Islands, USA, Australia), and analysing the data collected (grab samples of benthos, drop-down camera imagery of habitat, fish catches). In 2001-2003 I set up and ran a benthic monitoring program of Gulf War oil spills in Kuwait. The second phase, since 2006, has been largely desk-based assessment of the environmental impacts of a wide range of major coastal and marine developments (inc. renewables, cables, oil & gas, harbours) encompassing the UK, Ireland, Mediterranean, West Africa, the Caspian, and the Gulf. I have special responsibility for benthos, fish and shellfish, and nature conservation aspects, and I have undertaken numerous Environmental Impact Assessments, Habitats Regulations Assessments, one of the first detailed Marine Conservation Zone Assessments, and a Critical Habitat Assessment. I have also provided fish ecology expertise at an Oral Hearing for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (Rampion offshore wind farm). I have assessed and mitigated impacts to sensitive habits such as Sabellaria and seagrass, and species like seahorses, and nesting areas of black bream and turtles.
Broadly, my research examines marine biodiversity and how this interacts with humans, with the aim of informing conservation and sustainable management. To date my work has focused on the elasmobranch fishes (sharks and rays) in the Arabian region, but I am interested in wider marine vertebrate conservation science, particularly in the developing world.
- Biodiversity: understanding the distribution and abundance of this through time and space, through work in the field (fish market surveys, BRUVS, ROVs, fisheries surveys, eDNA, citizen science, Traditional Ecological Knowledge), in the museum (taxonomy), and documentary sources.
- Fisheries: documenting the composition and conservation aspects of poorly-known artisanal fisheries, such as in Arabia (Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE, Oman) and West Africa (Gambia).
- Conservation: assessing risk, identifying priorities and improving approaches for large marine vertebrates in the developing world
- Ecology and biology: habitat use, life history, diet, pollution, genetics
- Historical ecology: documenting abundance and distribution of biodiversity through time using documentary and unconventional data sources