An Interview with WiseOceans… Edward Doherty from MWSRP
We are back in the safe hands of MWSRP this week, they have so many good tips to share we just couldn’t help ourselves!
Name: Edward Doherty
Job Title: Assistant In Field Coordinator
Organisation: Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme (MWSRP)
- What inspired you to pursue a career in marine conservation?
Ever since I was small I was intrigued by the sea, especially in megafauna. While studying Marine Biology at Bangor University, it became apparent just how sensitive marine ecosystems are to human activity, yet how oblivious people are to their detrimental practises. One of my goals is to raise awareness for these ‘invisible’ underwater ecosystems and their inhabitants so that people might understand how their actions may be impacting their local marine resources.
- What steps did you take/are you taking to achieve your career goals?
I studied Marine Vertebrate Zoology (BSc) and Marine Biology (MMBIOL) at Bangor University and have partaken in multiple voluntary research internships, both inside and outside of university. My recent job with the MWSRP is very fulfilling and I am looking forward to contributing to future scientific publications.
- How did you land your current job/position?
A lot of it came down to luck because I just happened to pass a flyer while busy with one of my internships at university. I emailed the director of the charity expressing interest in becoming involved and, after further discussions, was hired as an Assistant In-Field Coordinator and Marine Biologist.
- Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?
It is difficult to top the sensation of swimming with a whale shark and so I would say this element of the fieldwork is the most exciting. However, I also enjoy interacting with so many like-minded volunteers and the other staff members. I have also redesigned the structure of our guest presentation, which is targeted towards the guests staying on the liveaboards. Presenting this work and otherwise being able to put myself out there as a representative of the charity is extremely rewarding.
- Are there aspects of your position which make you feel that you are really ‘making a difference’?
One of the opportunities that I am most looking forward to is looking at our most recent dataset to see if I can use it to investigate a couple of research questions that I have been pondering. I am already looking forward to researching and writing again, in the hope that I may ultimately contribute to the body of whale shark-related scientific literature.
- What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?
The last 5 years have been a huge learning curve concerning my career path. I am lucky enough to admit that I do not regret any of my past decisions, academic or otherwise, because they have all provided the foundations underlying my current knowledge and experience. It’s okay to make blunders along the way; they help to shape your future choices.
- Are there any skills you never thought you would need but did?
I’m not sure if it qualifies as a skill, but patience with tourists and the non-scientific community is paramount. Sometimes you can become so involved with your work and are so used to interacting with similarly minded people that you forget that seemingly basic principles, such as not grabbing the dorsal fin of a whale shark, are not obvious to many people. One of the important aspects of my work is to help communicate some basic marine biology to people who have never studied it.
- What advice would you give to budding marine conservationists?
You will probably learn this while at university, but I would recommend to keep in mind that conservation does not just circulate around the organisms/ecosystems that you are trying to protect. People need to be able eat and generate a living for themselves, which means that the exploitation of marine resources will always occur. Therefore, being able to work and collaborate with people is just as important as knowing the correct strategy by which to protect your target species.
My second piece of advice is to work to attain the highest marks you can for EACH year of university. Most UK students discredit their first year because it doesn’t count towards their final grade. However, consistently high grades look great on a CV and will likely help put you ahead of the curve.
- What is your favourite marine creature and why?
The whale shark, because I am lucky enough to work with them at the moment.
- What is your most unforgettable moment in the sea?
Sailing with my family.
Thanks for some excellent advice Ed and good luck in investigating those research questions, it sounds like you are in your element!
To find out more about the Maldives Whale Shark Research programme and get some fantastic experience to help you on your journey to becoming a marine conservationist then have a look at their page in our Marine Research Expedition section.
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