An Interview with WiseOceans… Alex Burden from Naifaru Juvenile – Atoll Marine Centre
This week we chat with Alex. There can be hardships developing a career in marine conservation but Alex’s advice is not to let that put you off. Enjoy every moment of it, it’s worth it!
Name: Alex Burden
Job Title: Marine Biologist
Organisation: Naifaru Juvenile – Atoll Marine Centre
What inspired you to pursue a career in marine conservation?
Although I undertook a bachelors in marine biology, it was only after I got into scuba diving where I truly knew I wanted a career in marine biology. The closer I came to the marine life, the more I respected it and the more I wanted to be able to protect it.
What steps did you take/are you taking to achieve your career goals?
Taking marine biology was the first step as it gave me an insight into the world of everything marine related, the problems that the oceans faced and the multiple techniques on how to mitigate these problems. I then got hooked on scuba diving and worked my way up to becoming a divemaster, which is a great qualification to obtain within this field of work. I did several months of marine conservation volunteer work as well as unpaid internships and here I am, doing what I love.
How did you land your current job/position?
I religiously check WiseOceans for job updates and new postings and Naifaru Juvenile were kind enough to offer me this position after a friendly interview.
Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?
I cannot pinpoint one aspect of my job that I most prefer, as it is all amazing work and I love every second of it. Whether its rehabilitating sea turtles, the satisfaction of growing healthy corals on a badly bleached reef or the pleasure of teaching young local kids the importance of keeping our oceans clean and healthy.
Are there aspects of your position which make you feel that you are really ‘making a difference’?
Personally, I think that successfully growing coral gardens in an area that has recently been bleached or decimated by storms makes me feel like I’m making a difference. It makes me happy to know that there are some corals that are resisting climate change and that I am helping them to grow to rehabilitate the reef to its former glory.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?
I wish I knew the severity of the issues that concern sea turtles within this area. I was shocked to hear that privately owned islands would take all turtle hatchlings from their nest and keep them in fresh water to show customers or even have them as pets.
Are there any skills you never thought you would need but did?
As a scuba diver I never thought I’d need to be able to free dive to reasonable depths. It is an extremely useful skill to have in your repertoire for this line of work, especially if dive gear is not readily available, and you have coral gardens to maintain!
What advice would you give to budding marine conservationists?
A lot of marine biologists don’t know what they want to specialise in so it’s always good to get as much volunteer work in as possible and discover your passion, then your goal becomes a lot clearer and much more achievable. Also, enjoy every moment of it, don’t let hardships hinder your progress towards that dream job.
What is your favourite marine creature and why?
The flamboyant cuttlefish is the best marine creature. Its adorably small and its colour changing ability is truly spectacular, and it’s always a fun challenge to spot one when they are well camouflaged.
What is your most unforgettable moment in the sea?
Every dive I have is unforgettable as every dive is different. If I had to chose then It would have the be in Malapascua, renowned for its presence of Pelagic Thresher Sharks, and having one of these beauties glide 30cm from my face! Either that or the time I witnessed two mating blue-ringed octopus whilst being circled by a banded sea krait. That was interesting.
Thank you Alex, we are glad our Wise Work pages were helpful in securing work, you seem to have landed a dream job! Don’t forget to sign up to our weekly job alert emails and keep an eye on our Wise Work pages so you don’t miss your dream opportunity in marine conservation.