Working as a Marine Biologist in the Maldives – Part 204 Dec 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! We managed to catch up with Kristina, the resident Marine Biologist at Kuredu’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 and worked in South Africa – with white sharks, cape fur seals, southern right whales and bottlenose and common dolphins. During my studies I worked for Shark Spotters, a non-lethal shark mitigation program, where we conducted population analysis of white sharks and provided education and safety to the local beach-goers. Afterwards I worked on a cage diving boat with Shark Explorers showing the customers the beauty of the white sharks and the False Bay ecosystem.
Tell us about the best part of your job
I often have people joining my snorkelling trips that are scared of the water and most of the marine wildlife. However, I’ve never met a guest that didn’t want to see the turtles of Kuredu – so somehow they manage to overcome their fear. For me it is amazing to see this when I take them to the lagoon to meet the turtles. The best moment is when I find the first turtle and see the people’s reaction; the look on their face is so rewarding and sometimes that one encounter actually takes away their fear completely. I always hope that these people will go back home share their enthusiasm and will provide further support for the conservation of the oceans. Also I love the moment when I go through new turtle pictures and find a new turtle. I always get super excited. Of course one thing which can’t be topped is the hatching of baby turtles. So you see it is hard to choose and many things are absolutely rewarding.
What do you love most about the Maldives?
I guess it’s pretty obvious but of course the Maldivian underwater world. For me it is a dream come true to live ‘in’ the ocean. I grew up in a landlocked part of Germany and the ‘sehnsucht’ to the ocean was always present. So I love the Maldives for the fact that they provide Marine Biologists such as me with the opportunity to live and work in this beautiful country.
What’s your favourite marine creature and why?
My favourite marine creature has been and always will be the great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias). When I was about ten years old I watched several documentaries about marine wildlife and the great white just absolutely amazed me. Their graceful movement and fierceness is what captured me from the first moment. Also to me sharks and other elasmobranchs are the symbol for perfect evolution. Over the 400 Million years since their first development they have adapted perfectly to their environments and have thereby conquered all oceans and depths. The basic body plan of sharks hasn’t changed in 400 Million years and makes them thereby one of the oldest and most successful orders in animal kingdom. On Kuredu I work with different ancient animals – the turtles! These interesting marine reptiles have definitely also stolen my heart and are in close competition to the sharks.
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?
There is not one correct path of becoming a marine biologist. It always depends on what you actually want to do. If you want to spend your time on boats diving and swimming with the marine wildlife the path of Marine Biologist might not be the right choice for you. In this case I would suggest following the path of a scuba diving instructor, which allows you to spend all your time in the water. If you want to understand the marine environment and want questions answered then you should consider studying marine biology. That was the path that I chose. In my undergrad I actually studied broad biological sciences, which was not focussing on the marine environment yet. However, it provided me with a very good understanding of many biological fields and processes which I can rely on now during my work. Afterwards I did my postgrad in South Africa at the University of Cape Town in ‘Applied Marine Sciences’. I chose to study abroad since I wanted to get the best chance to work with great whites – which worked out well in the end! Also it depends on what you want to do in the future to decide which University to attend. You should always research the programs & courses and try to find alumnis who can tell you about their experience. On top of all that the most important thing to do to become a Marine Biologist is to take part in internships! For me this was where I gained the most knowledge and experience. You are actually part of the research and see the animals in their natural environment. Try to find programs which suit your interest. There are many different organisations with different focusses. Get more information from alumnis about these programs and be aware that most of them are quite expensive. But, if you find the right one, it will be absolutely worth the money and will provide you with experience and memories for a lifetime.
Also, one very important part of the job is networking – you have to meet and know the people that can provide you with jobs and projects. So it’s not just one thing and not just one way which’ll lead you to success. Try to find your own way that suits you the best!
If you yourself or anyone that you know is interested in becoming a Marine Biologist I am always happy to provide assistance and share my experiences.
You can message me at firstname.lastname@example.org