This week we chat to…Shir Bar from Love the Oceans. Alongside developing practical and academic skills, Shir points out that experience in data analysis and people management can be equally important in your marine conservation career.
Name: Shir Bar
Job Title: Marine Biologist Field Specialist & Venture Leader
Organisation: Love the Oceans
- What inspired you to pursue a career in marine conservation?
I fell in love with the marine environment when I started SCUBA diving. I dove, forgive the pun, head into the reef fish guides after every dive. A few years and university degrees later I found I could best use my skills in protecting the environment I love.
- What steps did you take/are you taking to achieve your career goals?
During my Master’s I took the chance to expand my skill set. I gained a lot of hands-on fieldwork experience, but no less important I improved my data analysis skills and even my presentation skills. Nowadays I keep updated with the conservation community online, through social media platforms and newsletters.
- How did you land your current job/position?
I actually found the advertisement through one of the marine conservation groups on Facebook. I was taking a few months off travelling after completing my MSc but kept an eye out for interesting opportunities. Luckily, I managed to convince Francesca (Founder) and Andrea (Exec Director) I am awesome via Skype and got hired.
- Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?
Getting people excited about how cool the ocean and its inhabitants are. Oh, and the diving, but that’s sort of a given, isn’t it?
- Are there aspects of your position which make you feel that you are really ‘making a difference’?
Certainly. Our community outreach is easily a huge part of it. Teaching swimming every Saturday and seeing the kids improve throughout the season. Hearing our volunteers share their experiences teaching classes in the local schools. But aside from that, I also get to inspire our volunteers themselves. A lot of them take the knowledge they gain here with us and pay it forward in their home countries. One of our volunteers last year is an elementary school teacher, she now teaches her 4th graders about issues like plastic pollution in the ocean! How cool is that?
- What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?
Always budget for more time than you actually need. No matter how carefully you plan an experiment or a survey, something quite inevitably will go wrong that you didn’t think was even possible.
- Are there any skills you never thought you would need but did?
Our ocean trash research definitely got me creative with plastic processing skills. But, seriously, a lot of people management skills, more than I thought I would ever use. Sometimes you need to remind people that we are trying to collect reliable research data, not just write a line in their CV.
- What advice would you give to budding marine conservationists?
Stay positive, keep looking for opportunities and try and get some hands-on experience both in the actual fieldwork but just as importantly in data analysis. You’ll probably spend more time doing the latter in your career.
- What is your favourite marine creature and why?
A juvenile Smooth Trunkfish, or any juvenile boxfish actually. They look like a helpless little pea trying, quite unsuccessfully, to swim
- What is your most unforgettable moment in the sea?
But there are so many! Perhaps seeing a school of hundreds of Devil Rays swimming past me while I was diving in Las Catalinas MPA in Costa Rica.
Thank you Shir. Find out how you can join Love the Oceans and contribute to their research while gaining valuable experience.