Abbie Hine MSc, Founder & Managing Director of WiseOceans
Abbie is a marine educator and coral researcher, with over 18 years experience of educating people of all ages and abilities and many more years submerged and passionately embracing everything marine conservation related. Abbie has spent many years working in various countries on coral reef research expeditions; coordinating volunteers, surveys and science training, and liaising with in-country partners and providing advice on coastal management issues. Following these years teaching volunteers to identify and survey vulnerable reefs, Abbie undertook a MSc. in Tropical Coastal Management. Her final research paper looked into marine education being used as a form of management to reduce damage to coral reefs; the paper was presented at the 2007 International Pacific Marine Educators Conference (IPMEC) in Hawaii.
Abbie also worked as a resident marine biologist and environmental advisor for luxury resorts in Maldives for three years. During this time, working knowledge of an educational programme for resort guests was obtained. Simultaneously, Abbie worked on a coral propagation project. This project visibly showed that not only did the reef’s health increase, but it also acted as an extensive source of education for the guests and local schools, and as a tool to spread awareness. Since then Abbie has worked in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on a reef restoration and education project for Save our Seas Foundation (SOSF). The education element of this project expanded and moved to Seychelles where Abbie coordinated a large marine awareness project in association with SOSF. In 2011 Abbie founded WiseOceans, a concept she’d been mulling around for many years.
Over the years Abbie has worked on a number of different research and educational projects over the years including: coral recruitment, reef monitoring, reef rehabilitation projects, turtle nesting surveys, manta ray research, whale shark and plankton research, fish identification, abundance and diversity studies. Additionally, Abbie is a Trustee for GVI Trust and Education & Outreach Consultant for The Manta Trust. Abbie’s latest achievement is the arrival of daughter Martha; already a big fan of splashing in the bath, Martha is a future scuba diver and marine ambassador for sure!
“Education is a brilliant way to increase our enjoyment of the oceans and life within them. But more importantly, education is key for helping to preserve the marine environment. Education can stir up a sense of wonder for the oceans’ beauty and a compassion for their vulnerability. Ultimately aiming to encourage a sense of ownership for the essential resource that is our oceans. Growing up by the coast, nature and the sea played a big role in driving me towards a career in marine science. Learning to dive clinched the deal and has resulted in me spending many years submerged and passionately embracing everything marine conservation related. Every dive, every snorkel, every walk along the coast you learn something new, inspired by how incredible the natural world is and there is nothing quite like sharing that with other people and helping them learn to conserve the wonders around them.”
Lindsay Sullivan MSc, Director of Resort Marine Education & Development
Originally from the UK, Lindsay completed a degree in mathematics in 2002 before heading off for a gap year of travelling which, as fate would have it, included learning to dive on the Great Barrier Reef. The seed was sown… Lindsay returned to the UK, worked, lived and saved money, and began her marine career as a volunteer on a reef conservation project in Mexico in 2006. The nine months spent diving off the Yucatan Peninsula sealed the deal – marine all the way – and Lindsay returned to the UK to again work and save, before completing an MSc. in Applied Marine Science at the University of Plymouth. This done, Lindsay headed to the Indian Ocean, to spend a month as a volunteer reef ranger on Chumbe Island in Zanzibar. This island eco-resort is surrounded by a reef which, owing to its long-term protection, looks like a reef on steroids! Absolutely beautiful.
Lindsay moved to Seychelles (for the first time) in 2008 to run the science aspects of a volunteer-led reef conservation project and here gained an in-depth knowledge of the marine life and habitats of Seychelles. 18 months later and the next stop in the Indian Ocean is the Maldives, where Lindsay spent a year as the resident marine biologist at a resort on South Male Atoll. Having predominantly worked with other reef-enthusiasts, this was a real change and Lindsay found that educating resort guests mostly meant going back to basics – beginning with ‘coral is an animal’! Yet giving people their first experience of the reef is very rewarding and it was here that the value of education and awareness-raising, amongst the general public, the casual sea-users, really became clear.
Lindsay returned to the UK in 2011 to work for the Wildlife Trusts in the north-west of England, engaging the public and policy-makers alike on the conservation of the Irish Sea – a new challenge after the coral reefs of the Indian Ocean! Yet the UK seas face the same issues – lack of knowledge of the wonderful and diverse wildlife and habitats, over-exploitation, lack of protection. And before the UK public will stand up and fight for their seas, a greater understanding of their value is needed.
Two years later, with the absolute belief that education is the key, Lindsay joined WiseOceans and returned to the Indian Ocean initially as a WiseOceans Marine Educator at Four Seasons Resort Seychelles. Lindsay is now WiseOceans’ Director of Resort Education and Development.
“Although I have always loved the sea, I was a late starter into the marine world, and didn’t do my first snorkel until I was 21. And I was surprisingly nervous! But I can still remember it now, and it truly changed my life. There is a whole world beneath the ocean surface that is just mesmerising. I want to be a part of the team of people working to keep it that way.”
Charlotte Orba, Education & Communications Manager
Charlotte’s initial career was as a jazz and pop piano player. Alongside performing she developed a career in education, which led to becoming Head of Department for degrees in Popular Music and Music Production at Leeds College of Music. For many, being a musician is a dream career however she always felt there was something more and an idle moment during a lunch break led to taking (what was meant to be) a career break and joining a three-month volunteer marine conservation project in Seychelles.
Three months volunteering and then a further four months working as an intern for the project convinced Charlotte that diving, snorkelling and the marine world was where she belonged. During this time she gained an intimate knowledge of Seychelles underwater life. Conducting surveys and leading training dives in the pristine environment of the marine park of Bay Ternay and the reefs of Mahé, Seychelles taught her the importance of maintaining and conserving the intricate relationships of the coral reef. Initially specialising in coral (she is a self-confessed coral geek!) she also helped to survey and teach volunteers about reef fishes and invertebrates.
Charlotte then spent over two years as a Marine Educator at Four Seasons Resorts Seychelles combining her career in education with her love of the marine environment (as well as her love for Seychelles) before returning to the UK, where she now works for WiseOceans as Communications and Education Manager. Charlotte firmly believes in the power of education – just a one-off encounter between a teacher and an eager learner can spark a lifetime’s passion – or even just raise awareness so that future choices might be more sensitive to the environmental pressures the oceans face.
“The ability to make a difference to the planet we live on and the oceans within was the impetus for my career change from music to marine conservation.”
Krishna Ashok, Senior Marine Educator (Four Seasons Resorts Seychelles)
Having grown up by the South-East coast of India, Krishna has been a budding marine naturalist since he was eight years old. He first “volunteered” at his school’s marine aquarium section to feed the fish. His interest in the marine environment increased along with his age, and he took on the role of Volunteer Co-ordinator at the marine aquarium section during his undergraduate in Marine Biology.
Wanting to continue his academic journey, he pursued his MSc in International Marine Environmental Consultancy at Newcastle University in the UK. To make the best of his time abroad and to gain some work experience, he worked as the Outreach Program Assistant for the Marine Science department. Interacting with students to get them interested in the marine environment is when he initially realised how much he enjoyed sharing his excitement for the sea with others. He volunteered with the British Divers Marine Life Rescue as a Marine Mammal Medic and with ORCA and WDC Shorewatch as a Shore-Based Marine Mammal Observer to gain some field experience.
Returning to India in 2014, he worked as a Research Assistant for a month conducting boat-based surveys and social surveys, with local fishermen, to assess the diversity and abundance of marine mammals off the East coast of India. He then came across the excellent opportunity to work as the Education Officer with the Andaman and Nicobar Islands’ Environmental Team. Conducting workshops for middle school students all the way up to undergraduate students he realised several things: 1) what a strong tool education can be to increase environmental awareness and to promote conservation, 2) how much he enjoys being outdoors and sharing his excitement for the outdoors with other people, and 3) that he wants a future in environmental education.
Krishna’s role, as WiseOceans Marine Educator at Four Seasons Resort Seychelles, perfectly combines his interest in the marine environment and his passion to use education as a tool for conservation. He cannot wait to explore a new part of the world and use his experience and knowledge to immerse himself in marine environmental education.
“I used to go swimming in the sea since a very young age with family and friends. Soon I started to wonder what was under waves! The fascination that there are such incredible creatures thriving in an environment so drastically different than the one we are used to is never-ending.”
Hannah Harries, Senior Marine Educator (based in the UK)
Hannah grew up in sunny West Wales where she spent all of her time in the rock pools of the rugged coastline or out in the bay anxiously searching for seals, dolphins, porpoise or anything that was around! From a very young age being a marine biologist was the only thing on her mind and completing her initial dive courses in the Red Sea sealed the deal. After work experience stints in aquariums and with conservation organisations, Hannah then set off for a year in Australia where she worked on dive boats and in shops and trained as a Divemaster whilst working as an apprentice on the Great Barrier Reef. Although she was reluctant to leave the warm waters down under, Hannah returned to Wales to complete a degree in Marine Vertebrate Zoology at Bangor University.
After graduating university, Hannah reached out to volunteer at a local conservation organisation back at home in Pembrokeshire who she’d completed work experience with during school. After a stint volunteering, Hannah secured some funding to make herself an official employee – starting off as a Science and Education Officer initially; she then became Project Co-ordinator. Three years with Sea Trust monitoring the cetaceans of the Irish Sea, raising awareness within the local community and managing an education centre have cemented Hannah’s passion for inspiring others to be interested and involved in the marine environment. Hannah strongly believes that promoting the value of the marine environment is crucial in its conservation and that education and awareness are definitely key. Having spent the last three years in Seychelles and Mauritius with the last year setting up WiseOceans at Four Seasons Resort Seychelles at Desroches Island Hannah is UK based focusing on our Dive into the Classroom programmes.
“Having grown up right by the sea, originally it was a love of dolphins and desire to know more about life under the sea and within the rockpools that inspired me; now my passion is to inspire others to love and care about our seas and what’s in them just as much as I do!”
Ben Taylor, Education & Outreach Manager (based in Seychelles)
Ben is a marine biologist from Stoke-on-Trent (an English city that is as far away from the sea as you can get) who has always had a passion for biology, but it was not until an A-level marine biology field trip that he discovered his true passion for the marine world. Whilst surveying the fauna and flora of intertidal rockpools in Wales he came across a chiton. He was so amazed by the chiton and other marine organisms that it implanted a deep desire to learn about the marine environment. Ben decided to follow his passion and studied Marine and Freshwater Biology BSc at Aberystwyth University, Wales. After his second year, he felt he needed to complement his theoretical knowledge with first-hand experience in marine education and moved to Georgia in the USA, where he worked for a year as an environmental educator. He taught a variety of classes from marine biology to beach ecology as well as leading tours of local attractions whilst also curating marine aquariums and conducting public outreach events, a role that he fully enjoyed and which marked him for life.
On completing his BSc he went on to build his marine experience and worked for a turtle conservation NGO in Cape Verde as a ranger, where he primarily raised funds and promoted outreach with the public, tourists and local businesses, whilst also leading daily tours to see the loggerhead sea turtles. Having fallen for island life and sea turtles, Ben left Cape Verde to volunteer in Seychelles for 3 months where he was again involved with hawksbill turtle conservation on Cousin Island.
From these experiences Ben’s mind was set that he wanted to become a more multi-disciplined marine biologist, so he enrolled on the International Marine Environmental Consultancy MSc at Newcastle University in the UK. For his Master’s thesis, he went to Saudi Arabia to work as a consultant as part of a larger research group, where he conducted a baseline visual census and a stable isotopic analysis of invertebrates found at coral reefs around a pollution source. During his research, he caught the coral reef bug and after a short period in Berlin, Ben moved to Seychelles to work as a science officer for a marine conservation volunteering programme. In the role, he taught and trained the marine biologists of the future in coral reef ID and SCUBA survey methodology in the Cap Ternay marine park in north-west Mahé, Seychelles. Through his work, he developed a deep understanding of the climate of the area along with some of the issues surrounding conservation in Seychelles.
Ben had a strong desire to continue working in Seychelles with the aim to promote conservation through education and outreach which meant the manager position at WiseOceans Seychelles was a natural progression. Combining his passion to teach and educate, with the possibility to work on relevant scientific projects and forging strong relationships with the local community are the aspects that he is most looking forward to in his role.
“Education is at its best when it is fun, engaging and passionate! One inspirational teacher is all I needed to become a marine biologist. Now it is my turn to share this knowledge and help to inspire the next conservationists of the future, and help to preserve the marine environment.”
Bernard Toinette, Skipper & Marine Education Support (Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita)
Bernard comes from the beautiful island of Mauritius and since he was young has lived near the coast and is very passionate about marine life. Bernard has always felt connected with the oceans. Bernard has worked in many different companies within the tourism industry both on land and on the water. After working for several months as a Forest Guide at Valley de Ferney Nature reserve in Mauritius Bernard felt the pull of the sea and went back to the ocean to work as a Skipper, and instructor for water ski and sailing.
Bernard has 20 years of experience at sea and is a holder of a PADI Open Water certification and he is a certified life saver. Bernards passion for oceans and marine life goes beyond working on and in it, he is passionate about its conservation too.
Bernard joins our team at Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita as boat skipper and marine education support where he will be driving our snorkelling guests to our reef sites, enthusing about the marine life, helping on our Reef Restoration Project and getting involved in our community outreach.
“My aim is to raise awareness to protect our coral reefs and through the Reef Restoration Project, give our corals a second chance.”
Lois Nippard, Marine Educator (Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita)
Lois grew up in Bournemouth on the south coast of England and spent most of her time on the beach whatever the weather. As an adult, she has never wanted to move too far away from the sea. With a love of travel, she spent many years abroad and worked in the travel industry. Whilst travelling she completed SCUBA diving courses in Thailand and the Philippines. This is where her interest in marine life became a true passion. When living in Nicaragua she combined her knowledge of the travel industry and her love of the natural world by working for an eco-tour operator that specialised in sustainable wildlife tourism. When returning to England she started a BSc in Earth and Ocean Science in Brighton. Whilst studying she worked for the RSPB and volunteered for the Sussex IFCA on juvenile fish surveys. Since graduating Lois has been a volunteer trainee with the Kent Wildlife Trust working on a marine awareness raising project. Helping to run activities such as WildBeach and citizen science. She has also developed a programme called Urban Beach with the Marine Conservation Society aiming to help connect inner-city children to their coast.
“I have always been captivated by the ocean and everything that lives in it. The more I have learnt, the more my desire grew to pass this knowledge on. If everyone knew some of the wonders that are beneath the waves and how important the oceans are to life then together we can make sure it’s protected.”
Georgina Beresford, Funding & Project Manager (based in Seychelles)
Georgina has loved the sea from her first dip at the age of two. Since then she has become a slightly better swimmer and has been lucky enough to work on marine projects around the world.
She started off volunteering with a marine conservation project in Fiji 2006 as part of her gap year travels before heading back to the UK to do an Environmental Science degree. Having been thoroughly hooked on diving in her gap year Georgina completed a commercial diving course during her degree.
After a stint working as a Sustainability Officer for a surf school in Devon and making use of her diving qualification working with the underwater camera crew on a film, Georgina took time to experience life in the field with conservation NGO’s. In Indonesia, she worked as a research assistant on a reef restoration project and in Madagascar interned with a community-based conservation project. Here the opportunity to coordinate a series of lectures at the local university and work with local fishing communities sparked her interest in marine education and the wish to spread marine awareness.
After this Georgina ventured back into cold waters and into the world of tourism working for a Dive School on the beautiful Isles of Scilly where she spent most of her time as a seal snorkelling guide (which usually ended in getting hugged and nibbled by inquisitive seals).
She then took her growing interest in marine social science and hit the books again, completing an MSc in Tropical Coastal Management in 2013. During and after this masters she worked on a regional coral reef research project in the Caribbean, where she swapped scuba diving for interviewing local fishing and tourism communities, researching coral reefs and coastal communities.
Georgina started working for WiseOceans in Summer 2014 and hasn’t looked back since.
“The ocean has always been a source of wonder and fascination to me. I believe by connecting people to their oceans and all the benefits they bring, we can also connect people to the solutions we need to sustain these incredible ecosystems for future generations.”
Emily Daniels, Wise Work Administrator
Emily has always had a sense of adventure, this led to her travelling to Australia at the age of 18 where she volunteered for a terrestrial conservation company. During this time she joined a boat on the Great Barrier Reef and completed her OpenWater diving course, it quickly became clear that the combination of diving and conservation was where she wanted to forge a career. Emily travelled from Australia over to the Philippines where she completed a divemaster internship with Coral Cay Conservation. The diving in the Philippines, combined with the coral reef research showed Emily that although the majority of people enter into a career in marine conservation through a scientific route there was also a need for dive professionals and individuals with field experience.
This is when Emily returned to the UK to complete her PADI Open Water instructor course in the rather colder waters of Guildenburgh quarry. While in the UK Emily began working as marine operations manager for Operation Wallacea’s head office in Lincolnshire, spending the summers on-site at marine conservation projects in Honduras and Indonesia. These years really solidified for Emily exactly the area she wanted to focus her career. While working on the remote island of Hoga, in the Wakatobi, Indonesia she would work closely with British school groups who travelled to Indonesia to take part in a weeks marine field research and complete their Open Water course.
In 2010 Emily moved to Seychelles to continue her career path in marine conservation as Dive Manager and later Base Manager with Global Vision International where she met her husband, an underwater photographer, who she continues to travel with. Now based in the south of France Emily works remotely for WiseOceans.
“The combination of introducing students to the world of marine research and diving was inspiring and I found that education was key to ensuring the next generation continued to be passionate about the underwater world. “
Jordan Sutherland, Marine Educator (Four Seasons Resorts Seychelles)
Jordan was raised in the Peak District in the UK and although this is nowhere near the Ocean her family would spend most weekends venturing out to Abersoch, Wales. This is where her introduction to life in the Oceans began, mostly through exploring the intertidal rockpools and snorkelling the chilly Irish Sea.
A gap year in Thailand to complete her Divemaster quickly became two and she got her first glimpse into the world of Marine Conservation, volunteering on a coral reef restoration project. Not wanting to stop there, she continued onto Honduras to become an Open Water Scuba Instructor. She felt that by teaching people how to dive and letting them experience that environment for themselves first hand, was easily the best way to spark and maintain a genuine love and interest for it.
This is some of the most fun and engaging work that she has done, however, she wanted to increase her theoretical knowledge base, and understand more about the weird and wonderful species and ecosystems operating here. So she returned to the UK to complete her BSc in Marine Biology and Oceanography at the University of Southampton.
Whilst at university Jordan volunteered at the Coral Reef Lab during term time and corals quickly became some of the most fascinating creatures she had seen, especially at night. In the summers she would use the long breaks to her advantage and work with a research and conservation company, both in Cuba and Honduras. She was an Instructor/Snorkel Guide and Scientific Diver, conducting fish and benthic surveys, making sure that students knew the best practice out on the reef.
She also worked on a small boat in Maine USA, researching and monitoring elements of the inshore lobster fishing industry, learning how to implement ecosystem-based management practices and why they are crucial in order to achieve sustainability and oceanic health.
For her dissertation thesis, she also conducted research towards the sustainability and conservation of an endangered invertebrate species in Sweden. During the process she learnt the initial reason for their endangerment was lack of management and no public education, this highlighted to her that knowledge really is power when it comes to determining the successes of our marine habitats.
“Many people are able to appreciate how important education is, yet the education we receive about our oceans is often underrepresented. It is my belief that by providing the information and taking the time to explain topics in a fun and engaging environment, that inspiration and true change will emerge”
Flavio Joseph, Marine Educator (Four Seasons Resorts Seychelles at Desroches Island)
Flavio is from Mauritius, from Curepipe more precisely. The interest to engage in this field came from watching documentaries about the marine world. He enrolled for a BSc in Marine Science and Technology at the University of Mauritius in 2014 and spent his holidays as a volunteer in NGOs engaged in marine conservation (Ecosud – Lagon Bleu Project and Reef Conservation) where he gained the scientific monitoring experience. He discovered the beauties residing in the ocean through training in dive centre where he got his diving certificates.
A second internship at Reef Conservation in the Voluntary Marine Conservation Area project enabled him to be employed in that NGO after the completion of his studies. During his time in this NGO, he had the opportunity to meet different coastal communities, dive centres and fishermen through several community-based projects.
His will to pursue marine education resides behind the fact that people protect and respect what they know and as a scientist, it is sometimes challenging to convey scientific information into simpler terms for the public. Flavio is looking forward to joining the team to meet these challenges.
“Before I even knew how to swim, I was already going into the sea with my mask and snorkel because of the fascination I felt for what is underwater.”
Flora Blackett, Marine Educator (Four Seasons Resorts Seychelles)
Having grown up in the northern countryside of the UK, Flora was surrounded by the beauty of a natural landscape and knew from the age of 10 that her life and job would be in the conservation field- helping to conserve what she truly loves.
Studying for an undergraduate degree in Wildlife Conservation enabled her to make the most of volunteering and travel in the holidays, cementing the long-term choice to live abroad. Once the BSc was finished she began by completing her divemaster in Honduras, then moved on to working for volunteer programs in Costa Rica and Mexico. Here she realised that education and conservation matched together perfectly. Having spent over two years working to protect sea turtles and their hatching nests, she decided an MSc would add further knowledge to the experience, so returned to the UK to study at the University of Kent.
Once accomplished she moved to the Maldives where the next two years were spent working as the resident marine biologist and dive instructor on a luxury resort. Here she was able to run a coral adoption program, create a children’s young marine biologist program and generally talk to and educate the guests to love and respect the ocean. Moving to Seychelles enables this exciting and passion inducing work to continue.
“One experience can change your life- using the ocean to do this is easy as it’s quite simply magical under the waves”
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