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Ocean Minds Presents Emma Arnett

Profession: MSc Researcher

Organisation: University of Queensland

Emma is easygoing yet incredibly strong minded. Her ability to network and find opportunities in the most unlikely of events inspires me. She never judges a book by it's cover and utilises both her scientific knowledge and business brain to achieve key conservation and management goals.

1. How did we meet?

We met whilst interning together for the Velaa Coral Restoration Project in the Maldives!! We crossed-over for 3 months and you helped to teach me the ropes of an intern. We were stuck together for a very long time on a very, very small island. Although, we were definitely some of the lucky ones spending up to 4 hours in the water 6 days a week! Oh how I miss our coral babies. We also bonded over a few too many gins during our time there… Oops.

2. What is one memorable ocean moment from our time together?

There are too many to choose from! Two that I will always remember are: 1) completing my 100th dive in the coral nursery (N4A) where my regulator broke and you saved my life, and 2) casually heading out for a typical work dive and the team saw the first manta ray in months!

3. What encouraged you to purse a career in marine biology/conservation?

My high school Marine Studies teacher! She was such an amazing woman, so welcoming and approachable to all. I obtained my boat licence and scuba certificate through this class which definitely fuelled my passion for the ocean. The class was lucky enough to attend a week-long field trip on Lady Elliot Island, the southern-most coral cay on the Great Barrier Reef. Here I saw the most beautiful coral fields and my first manta ray! Safe to say, I enjoyed her class so much I decided to study marine biology at university.

4. How did you land your current job?

Currently I’m studying a Master of Environmental Management in Brisbane, Australia at the University of Queensland. I have found it extremely useful to approach my university lecturers and researchers for opportunities within the university and collaborative NGO’s. This is how I managed to land one of the world’s leading marine spatial conservation researchers as my project supervisor. I will be focusing on the seafood sustainability, specifically the inefficiencies of trading similar or same seafood species between countries.

5. What is it about your role that makes you feel like you are truly making a difference?

Honestly, I find it hard to feel like you’ve made a difference until you look back on what you’ve achieved, big or small, and then you realise just how much you’ve done.

6. What advice would you give to aspiring ocean warriors?

Keep your head held high and wherever you can: network! Keeping connections with like-minded people throughout your journey is so helpful and also inspiring. Don’t forget to be kind to everyone and never judge a book by its cover. Although it is scary to approach people at first, more often than not they will be interested in what you’ve accomplished or what you are willing to accomplish. You will become better at approaching people with practice, so get started! Need a volunteer or internship? Ask your professors, ask your supervisors, ask your local NGO’s.

7. What has been your most unforgettable experience in the ocean and why?

Every time I believe I have the most unforgettable experience, it is beaten by another experience. In 2014 I volunteered for a turtle conservation project in Costa Rica, and saw thousands of nesting Olive Ridley turtles and hatchlings, and a leatherback turtle laying! In 2019, the coral restoration project will definitely be an experience I will never forget. Fragmenting corals, monitoring them, watching them grow in the nursery then seeing them continue to grow once transplanted back to the reef will be engraved in my memory forever. Early last year I saw thresher sharks while on a holiday in the Philippines. This year I was attending a workshop on Heron Island, on the Great Barrier Reef, where we saw hundreds of green turtles, hatchlings, a vast amount of stingrays, and a hammerhead shark! I cannot wait to see what the ocean has install for me next!

8. Who has inspired you to achieve your goals?

There’s too many to acknowledge! My family and friends inspire me every day, without them I would not be who I am today. My previous supervisors and team members at WCS and the Velaa Coral Restoration Project. They taught me so much, not just about the industry and professionalism, but also helped shape me as a person. Finally, a lot of my university professors are wonderful people who have achieved considerable amounts for the environment, I can only hope that one day I contribute a fraction of what they have provided the world.

9. What do you hope to achieve in the future?

I hope to help change or create better marine conservation policies in Australia. Not sure how just yet, but hopefully by bridging the gap between science communication and policy management.

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