This week we chat to…Amelie Carraut from Reefscapers. Amelie proves that sometimes your path to your dream job can take unexpected turns but that every position provides opportunities to grow and develop to help reach your goal. Persevere in your path and you may too secure a dream job growing corals in the Maldives just like Amelie!
Name: Amelie Carraut
Job Title: Marine Biologist
- What inspired you to pursue a career in marine conservation?
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been passionate about nature and its biodiversity. Every summer, my parents would take me to explore the Mediterranean Sea, observing the mysteries of this vibrant world full of colourful fish. I’ve always been drawn by the ocean and its positive influence on people’s happiness. That’s what made me want to pursue a career in marine biology, to preserve this incredible environment and its wildlife while educating people about its importance.
- What steps did you take/are you taking to achieve your career goals?
My motivation drove me to move to the UK to study Marine Environmental Science at the University of Portsmouth and that’s where I first began working with corals. I volunteered with Operation Wallacea to collect data on corals and monitoring coral reefs in Indonesia. I was lucky enough to have passionate and dedicated supervisors that helped me create a strong research project. To further pursue my career, I decided to study for a Master’s in Conservation & Biodiversity with the University of Exeter and became a divemaster. After graduation, I worked in marine but also terrestrial conservation for a few years in multiple organisations around the world, and here I am now in the Maldives as a Marine Biologist with Reefscapers.
- How did you land your current job/position?
I’ve always known I wanted to study and protect corals but I actually started my career as a field supervisor in the Taï National Park in Côte d’Ivoire to study a group of chimpanzees for conservation and ecotourism with Wild Chimpanzee Foundation. I then acquired more skills and experience in different jobs but when I came upon this marine biologist position with Reefscapers I knew I had to apply. If you had asked me this question a few years ago, I would never have imagined myself working on such innovative and valuable projects.
- Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?
I love being underwater and immersing myself in a new environment but I think what I like the most is watching our corals growing over time on the frames. We monitor our coral frame every 6 months and it is incredible to see how fast they can grow with good maintenance and daily dose of love. Seeing how these coral frames attract marine creatures such as stingray, octopus or shark is truly rewarding. It is encounters like these that drive me and the wonderful team I work with to continue transplanting corals and educate guests about our coral propagation programme.
- Are there aspects of your position which make you feel that you are really ‘making a difference’?
We are raising awareness about the importance of preserving coral reefs so educating guests about marine life of the Maldives from the blacktip reef sharks to the small yellow boxfish you see around coral frames is for me highly rewarding. Seeing the positive impacts that education can have is one of the best aspects of my job.
- What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?
You don’t always get your “dream job” at first, especially right after university but you can always get valuable knowledge out of any position. Take every opportunity that is related to your field to slowly go towards your goal, it is very valuable to learn new skills, obtain more knowledge and it gives you a broader perspective.
- Are there any skills you never thought you would need but did?
I didn’t have any skills in communication but this is now an important and valuable part of my job. Sharing the importance of the ocean by educating people on coral propagation and engaging with a community plays a crucial role in marine conservation efforts.
- What advice would you give to budding marine conservationists?
I would say to never give up! Marine conservation is a tough field with a lot of competition but if you persevere, you are able to reach your goal. Gain as much experience as possible and take every opportunity you have to make your voice heard.
- What is your favourite marine creature and why?
I’ll obviously have to say corals! I love how diverse and unique they are. They come in every size, shape and colour and have this incredible symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae that makes them so fascinating to study. They are very complex animals that are so valuable for coral reefs ecosystems. But there is still so much left we don’t know about them and I can’t wait to find out more!
- What is your most unforgettable moment in the sea?
This is a tough question as every moment underwater is different and every dive is unique. But snorkelling with seals down in Cornwall was a truly amazing experience! They are very playful animals, always sneaking up from the dark but precious kelp forests and trying to catch your fins when you least expect them to! We also saw a sunfish on that day and even though it was a bit far away, it was genuinely astonishing.
Thank you Amelie, some great insights there that I am sure will be useful for many of our readers!