This week we chat to…Kayla Moore, Science Officer with GVI in Akumal, Mexico. Investing in yourself – whether that’s working and saving for dive qualifications, an expedition experience or attending courses and workshops to further your career – all helps to secure that first job. Also, learning some practical DIY skills will always come in handy and make you a useful person around camp!
Name: Kayla Moore
Job Title: Science Officer
- What inspired you to pursue a career in marine conservation?
I fell in love with the ocean when I was 10 years old reading the Dolphin Diaries novels. I insisted for years that I was going to become a marine biologist when I grew up. However, as I got older and learned more about the impacts that human beings are having on marine environments, I knew I wanted to work in marine conservation. I wanted to help protect all of the marine creatures that fascinated me as I grew up.
- What steps did you take/are you taking to achieve your career goals?
I spent over a year saving money to be able to participate in a marine conservation internship and cover the costs of the diving courses I needed to take to reach a professional level. Now that I am working in marine conservation, I participate in every seminar and workshop I can find to further my knowledge about the impacts that human beings are having on the marine environment.
- How did you land your current job/position?
I started with GVI as a volunteer doing my Divemaster Internship. I worked really hard and got hired on as a scholar (temporary, unpaid, entry-level staff member). After a few months, I got promoted into an entry-level permanent position. When my predecessor quit, I was promoted to the position of Science Officer. I have now been with GVI for over a year and a half.
- Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?
I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to dive every day and teach volunteers how to identify marine species and the techniques that are used to monitor them. I love having the chance to share my passion and excitement for the diverse and beautiful organisms that can be found on the reef. When a volunteer gets truly excited about seeing corals or benthic invertebrates that they previously didn’t know existed, I feel proud and joyful that I helped spread awareness and love for these animals.
- Are there aspects of your position which make you feel that you are really ‘making a difference’?
I feel like I have made a difference when I hear volunteers educate their families and friends back home about how they can make changes in their daily lives to reduce their environmental impact. Also helping out our partners with their coral nurseries is really rewarding because you can see a tangible difference in the reef after replanting the corals.
- What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?
I wish I knew how important it was to make connections and network when I was in university.
- Are there any skills you never thought you would need but did?
I helped out around the house a lot as a kid with various projects and renovations. Understanding how to use basic tools has come in handy more times than I can count.
- What advice would you give to budding marine conservationists?
Invest in yourself! Don’t be afraid to put money into furthering your education or taking workshops that could help improve your employability and provide you with skills that make you stand out.
- What is your favourite marine creature and why?
My favourite marine creature is the Caribbean Reef Squid because their synchronized swimming and rapid colour changes make them a mesmerizing sight on any dive.
- What is your most unforgettable moment in the sea?
I was on a dive with a volunteer doing practice monitoring. As we were ascending at the end of the dive, 2 wild dolphins began circling us. We could hear them whistling to each other and they stayed with us for a while before disappearing back off into the blue. It was a magical moment and one I will likely never forget.
Thank you Kayla. It is great to see how you have made things happen for yourself through hard work and persistence. GVI expeditions are a fantastic way to get practical experience – there are lots of different locations and specialities to choose from. Their expedition page is a great place to start looking.