Professional Experience

Coral Reef Restoration, Aitutaki, Cook Islands, 2015-2017

​Facilitating a coral reef restoration programme for the Aitutaki lagoon by planting live coral starts and juvenile giant clams (Tridacna spp.) on reef substrata. The project has spawned Reef-Keepers, a capacity-building education platform and ecotourism model that encourages students and tourists to physically participate in marine conservation and restoration activities. Developing and refining coral restoration methodologies and ecosystem recovery strategies are a continuing interest.

Enhancing hatchery productivity: Increasing larval survival of giant clams, AMRC, 2013

Dissolved organic matter (DOM) and amino acids are vital sources of nutrition for T. maxima larvae. I quantified when the uptake of DOM occurs, and whether elevating amino acid concentrations influenced survival. Results suggest that uptake of DOM occurs much earlier than thought, and that elevated amino acids significantly accelerated larval development.

Ecological and commercial assessment of H. atra, Aitutaki Lagoon, Cook Islands, 2012

Natural proliferation of the sea cucumber Holothuria atra led the Mayor of Aitutaki to consider harvesting them to commercial markets. I assessed present H. atra stock numbers at various locations in the Aitutaki lagoon and followed up with a formal report on the biology and potential harvesting strategies for this species.

Giant clam restoration, Aitutaki Marine Research Centre (AMRC), Cook Islands, 2003 – 2015

The AMRC is chartered with reversing the functional extinction of native Tridacna spp. (giant clams) in the lagoon. For the past twelve years I have engaged in all aspects of hatchery productivity, including extensive biological research relevant to spawning, rearing, and restoration. Related activities include fund-raising, and public education programs.

Expert witness testimony, Environmental Court, Auckland, NZ, 2015

Commercial developers wishing to construct a marina submitted an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) with the Environmental Court. A local NGO hired me to review the applicant’s assessment, submit scientific evidence that supported or refuted report content, and appear in court to provide expert testimony regarding my findings and recommendations.

Biological Assessment of Matiatia Bay, Waiheke Island, New Zealand, 2015

Marine ecosystems of Matiatia Bay are not well understood. I am leading a citizen-science initiative aimed at quantifying baseline chemical, biological and physical attributes of the Bay. This data will be used to inform policy with respect to potential commercial development, and inspire stewardship of the Bay by local school children and the broader Waiheke community.

Enhancing hatchery productivity: Increasing larval survival of giant clams, AMRC, 2014

Giant clam larval mortality at AMRC is typically 99%. I conducted an experiment to determine whether supplemental feeding of T. maxima broodstock for 5 weeks prior to spawning increases egg size and biochemical composition, attributes associated with larval survival. Parental feeding resulted in a 13.2 % increase in egg size, and larval survival nearly doubled.

Recruiting juvenile giant clams to their natural habitat, AMRC, Cook Islands, 2012

Water turbulence and predation are key impediments to recruiting juvenile giant clams to natural habitats. I developed a novel method for rapidly recruiting large numbers of juvenile clams directly to lagoon substrata. The Cook Islands Ministry of Marine Resources (MMR) has adopted this method to help reverse the functional extinction of T. maxima in the Aitutaki lagoon.

Ecological assessment, Aitutaki Lagoon, Cook Islands, 2010

Reversing the functional extinction of native T. maxima giant clams in the Aitutaki Lagoon required identifying locations most suitable for reintroduction. Using data collected by MMR, I conducted a detailed assessment of biological, chemical and physical factors relevant to reintroducing T. maxima to the lagoon.

Assessment of littoral biodiversity, Santa Monica Bay, California, 2007

To gain field experience in marine conservation, I investigated whether biodiversity of benthic life in the littoral zone varied in response to distance from point pollution. Results showed that biodiversity increased in relation to distance from the source of pollution. Importantly, this study demonstrated that data collection methods could help identify areas for marine protection.

Trialing an eradication method for an invasive species of tunicate, Washington, 2006

Attempts by government agencies to eradicate invasive Styela clava tunicates from Pleasant Harbour did not discriminate the target from other organisms. I implemented a pilot eradication methodology using varying durations of exposure to dry ice. Results were used by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Tailor Shellfish Inc., and Pacific Shellfish Institute.

Biochemical assessment of an estuarine environment, Washington, 2006

Eagle Harbour was one of the most polluted harbours in the State. An eight-week assessment yielded a comprehensive profile of temperature, pH, salinity, and dissolved oxygen by depth, tidal variation and atmospheric conditions. Results were used by government agencies as baseline values in response to EPA capping of polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PHCs).