This week we chat to…Patrice Hotstetter, a Marine Mammal Researcher and Supervisor from the Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation in Greece. Patrice took the opportunity to volunteer at a number of organisations to get the experience she needed to take her career forward. She loves to work in the field but also to mentor interns and share her knowledge and experience with them.
Name: Patrice Hotstetter
Job Title: Marine Mammal Researcher and Supervisor
Organisation: Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation
- What inspired you to pursue a career in marine conservation?
I’ve always had a love of the ocean and I wanted to do something that could make a difference. With climate change, overfishing, and so many other issues affecting the oceans, now is the time to change our attitudes and habitats before these problems become irreversible.
- What steps did you take/are you taking to achieve your career goals?
After getting my BSc, I spent several years volunteering and interning at various organisations around the world in order to get first-hand experience in marine research and conservation. Then, I obtained my MSc in marine biology and ecology to support my experience with scientific education.
- How did you land your current job/position?
I think it came down to hard work, determination, and being flexible enough to move across the world.
- Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?
The best part of my job is being out in the field, collecting vital information about the various cetacean species here in the Aegean Sea. I also really enjoy working with students and interns from around the world and seeing them become passionate about the marine environment.
- Are there aspects of your position which make you feel that you are really ‘making a difference’?
Conservation is a lot of work, it can take years of effort to make a change, but seeing that positive action is so rewarding.
- What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?
I wish I would have known how to network better, it can be very intimidating but it is necessary and helpful to make those connections with people from various fields and with different expertise.
- Are there any skills you never thought you would need but did?
Communication is so important and is such a big part of conservation efforts, from presenting scientific findings to large groups of people to building relationships with the local community.
- What advice would you give to budding marine conservationists?
Take every opportunity you can, even by having experiences outside of your field of interest. You never know when you may learn something that will help you in the future.
- What is your favourite marine creature and why?
Definitely seals, because they are intelligent, graceful, and adaptable.
- What is your most unforgettable moment in the sea?
After 4 days of zero sightings during a week-long expedition here in the Aegean Sea, on our last day of surveying we observed a pod of 7 Risso’s dolphins (Grampus griseus) which are rare to this area. They were very inquisitive and calm, allowing us to monitor them and collect valuable data.
Thank you Patrice, it is fantastic to get your insight into a field that generates so much interest. You can learn more about Archipelagos’ internship programmes here.