Working as a Marine Biologist in the Maldives – Part 1

13 Nov 2019

Imagine living in a dream location, doing what you love every single day…that’s the life of a marine biologist in the Maldives! In between her missions to find manta rays, we caught up with Lynn, one of the resident Marine Biologists at Hurawalhi’s Marine Center, to ask her about her job and how she came to be a marine biologist…

What did you do before coming to the Maldives?

I studied Environment & Resource Management in Amsterdam. Right before scoring my absolute dream job with Manta Trust, I had just moved back to Hamburg and was busy applying for all kinds of marine and conservation-related jobs.

Tell us about the best part of your job

The mantas! I still have to pinch myself from time to time to realise that I get to work for an organisation that is dedicated to manta ray conservation. Being in the water with these animals and getting to know the individuals of our Lhaviyani population on a regular basis is just incredible.

What do you love most about the Maldives?

The fact that wherever I look, I see the ocean – even from my office! Living on an island, having coral reefs, sharks, turtles, and rays right at my doorstep is more than I could have ever asked for.

What’s your favourite marine creature and why?

Hate to be boring, but it’s by far the manta ray. It’s not just their size and majestic movements, but the fact that each manta has a different personality. They are very curious by nature and highly intelligent which makes each encounter very special and unique. If I had to pick another marine creature, besides the manta I would go for the Sergeant Majors. I love their stripes and the fact that they always hang out with their friends.

For all the young divers, snorkellers and ocean enthusiasts out there, how can they follow in your footsteps and pursue a career in marine biology?

To be quite honest, if someone had told me a couple of years ago that I would be working for Manta Trust in the Maldives, I would have laughed at them. I was under the impression that one could only pursue a career in marine biology with a super scientific mind-set – which I lack. I did a Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Studies, hoping to find a way into nature journalism. Becoming a PADI scuba instructor contributed a lot to get me to where I am now: Besides being in the water a lot, it opened doors for me to volunteer and assist on research projects and help out on scientific expeditions. After working as an instructor for a couple of years, I realised that I want to work in marine conservation for which I needed a corresponding degree. I found a course that matched my interests and abilities and actually got accepted! It wasn’t always easy, but in the end I graduated with a MSc in Environment & Resource Management. So you see, even if you don’t have the most scientific mind-set, there are still ways to pursue a career in the field that you’re truly interested in. My strong belief is, that more interdisciplinarity can only benefit marine science and conservation.

Images by Tiff Bond @tiffle5