This week we chat to…Hannah from Manta Trust. Upskilling and being adaptable are among Hannah’s top tips for landing your dream job in marine conservation – really sound advice that is echoed by so many of our interviewees.
Name: Hannah Moloney
Job Title: Project Manager, Ari Atoll, Maldives
Organisation: Manta Trust (Maldivian Manta Ray Project)
- What inspired you to pursue a career in marine conservation?
Growing up by the sea with a dad who is deeply connected to our natural world, helped to ignite my inquisitive nature towards the ocean. As a kid, I gravitated towards interests like snorkelling, surfing and exploring the coast. As an adult, I’ve had a hunger to learn more so I can help to protect what I love. This has lead to becoming involved in marine conservation, research and education.
- What steps did you take/are you taking to achieve your career goals?
With a career goal to pursue a PhD on elasmobranch conservation research: Since graduating Marine Biology at Uni in Australia, I have been travelling the world working in marine conservation, research and the maritime industry. Initially, I gained my experience by doing volunteer and internships and as time has gone on, these positions have turned into jobs. With my career aspirations developing and changing over time, I am now working towards doing a PhD in elasmobranch conservation.
- How did you land your current job/position?
I think I am pretty lucky to be considered to be a part of the Manta Trust team. Since finishing Uni I have held many differing positions which have helped me expand my skills and experience. Previously I worked as a Resort Marine Biologist in Maldives and I volunteered with the Manta Mexico Caribbean Project, both these positions helped familiarise me with manta research and life on islands. More recently I become a boat captain (Coxswain Gr1 NC) and completed my Dive Master with Indo Ocean Project on Nusa Penida. I also have my own conservation blog site – Ocean Wildly. I think all these things combined helped me land this job; my boss may say different haha.
- Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?
Diving into the secret life of mantas! Working as part of a passionate global team who is trying to unlock some of these secrets so we can best protect them.
- Are there aspects of your position which make you feel that you are really ‘making a difference’?
I love being a part of the largest, longest-running manta ray study in the world. The better our understanding is of mantas, their relatives and their habitat; the more efficiently we are going to be able to protect them in Maldives and around the world.
I also love it when people’s perceptions of ocean creatures change. When someone encounters a manta for the first time it can be extraordinarily beautiful. They connect with an animal in the ocean like they never have before. They start to realise the vulnerability of this species and how sensitive the ecosystems in the ocean are. I like helping facilitate a connection between people and the ocean; it warms my heart.
- What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?
Up-skill. Take the extra steps to gain further qualifications. Find an area you are interested in and spend the time and money to do the extra courses. E.g. Honours/Masters/Dip of Education, DM/Instructors, Boat captain licence/ competent crew, first aid, stats analysis, project management, online courses for writing, social media or website design, graphic design… Whatever may be your area of interest, the more skills/qualifications you have, the more desirable you are to an employer.
- Are there any skills you never thought you would need but did?
The ability to be adaptable. This industry is not straight forward, nothing is laid out for you. You have to be willing to say “yes” and figure the rest out later.
- What advice would you give to budding marine conservationists?
Travel the world but do it with purpose. Do good things, get involved with communities, learn new skills, volunteer, network, get out of your comfort zone and be ready to say yes to things that go beyond your original plan.
- What is your favourite marine creature and why?
Manta rays because of how inquisitive they are, sharks because of their power and grace, and plankton because of their endless ability to make me wonder.
- What is your most unforgettable moment in the sea?
When a heat-run of 5 adult male humpback whales swam directly beneath me on their hunt for a female on the Ningaloo Reef Aus. I felt my body vibrate with their loud deep vocalisations and watched as bubbles escaped from their blowholes. I shared this experience with my younger brother.
Thank you Hannah, there’s some really great advice there. Following on from Hannah’s advice to upskill and stand out from the crowd, read our blog on this very subject.