Raja Ampat SEA Centre
Meet Rob, Steph and Arno – our resident marine scientists!
As a resort operating in the heart of the Coral Triangle, with an abundance of pristine marine systems right on our doorstep, we would like to do our part to support and assist with research and conservation in the area. Therefore, we are excited to welcome our new team of scientists! With several projects already underway, we look forward to working together to actively support and conserve the extra- ordinary marine life within Raja Ampat.
Meet the Team:
Rob: For the greater part of the last 3 years, Rob has been living and studying the manta ray population here in Raja Ampat. He has always had a love of the sea and marine life, and obtained his masters degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation in 2014. Rob will be starting a PhD study on the social structure and behaviour of the local reef manta ray population in the Dampier Strait area later this year.
Rob discovered his fascination with manta rays whilst undertaking a divemaster course in Mozambique in 2012, and since then has dedicated his efforts to learning more about the species. He is particularly fascinated by manta rays’ high level of intelligence and co-operative nature, something he believes is vital in understanding their true nature. Rob’s PhD studies will use social network analysis to uncover the relationships within manta societies that contribute to their overall population structure.
Steph: Steph is a Marine Scientist originally from the UK. She moved to Australia with her family at an early age, and growing up in Perth, Western Australia, quickly became intrigued and inspired by the ocean and all its marine life. She has a passion for travel and conservation and believes the more we know about a species or ecosystem, the better it can be protected. Steph graduated with a BSc. in Marine Science from Murdoch University in 2011 and has since worked on manta ray populations in Australia, Mozambique and Raja Ampat with her postgraduate studies focussing on the impact of tourism on mantas in Australia’s Ningaloo Marine Park. She has been working with Marine Mega Fauna since early 2014 and has recently started a PhD focussing on manta ray population genetics. Through her research Steph hopes to develop genetic techniques into valuable conservation tools that can be applied to manta ray populations worldwide.
Arno: Some of you already know Arno as one of our dive centre managers, however, by night (and often by day) he is a marine scientist, who since childhood has dreamed of working in tropical reef conservation. With a BSc in Environmental Biology and a MRes in Ecosystem-based Management and Conservation of Marine Systems, Arno will be working across a number of projects at Papua Explorers, including a pilot project restoring degraded areas of reef around the resort. This project will involve the development of an artificial reef, which will also be used a as educational tool for locals and guests to learn more about the ecology and importance of coral reefs within the wider marine ecosystem. Crucial to all of Arno’s projects is collaboration with key stakeholders, including local communities, dive resorts and local government.
We are extremely proud and look forward to supporting Rob, Steph and Arno’s work over the coming years. It is our hope that together we can discover more about the magnificent manta rays of the area and apply this knowledge to their conservation, and additionally use existing scientific research and knowledge to restore, maintain and conserve the coral reef systems of the Dampier Strait and all the amazing services they provide.