Meet the team !

Nigel Hussey - Lead scientist for the shark and ray project

My initial research on sharks began in 2001 and was focused on mapping ‘Essential Nursery Habitat’ of lemon sharks in Bimini, Bahamas. I conducted my PhD on the movement, feeding and trophic ecology of the dusky (Carcharhinus obscurus) and scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini) sharks off southeast Africa based at the School of Ocean Sciences, Bangor University, Wales. I am currently working as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Windsor, Canada in conjunction with the Ocean Tracking Network deriving data on movement and trophic interactions of fish, including sharks to improve management and conservation action plans. I am involved in various shark research and management programmes around the world ranging from the ice lands of the high Arctic to the desert lands surrounding the Red Sea region and including species such as the Greenland shark, scalloped hammerhead shark and the Great white shark.

Noémie Stroh - Cousteau Society - Science and Communication Project Manager

I studied biology at the University Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris (France) and I received a Master degree in Conservation Biology in 2007. I first worked in a laboratory on forest dynamics and invasive species, I joined the Cousteau Society in 2008. Since then, I have been working on communication and awareness project, especially on web and I coordinate different project including the Divers Aware of Sharks project.

Steven Kessel – Co-principal investigator

"My career in marine science began in 2002 when I took an undergraduate placement at the Bimini Biological Field Station, Bahamas where I conducted field research for my undergraduate dissertation on the abundance distribution and habitat association of juvenile lemon shark prey communities. I then began my PhD, based through Cardiff University, UK, in 2005 focused on lemon shark behavior and population dynamics in the Bahamas and U.S Atlantic seaboard. During this time, in 2007 Dr. Nigel Hussey and I participated in a Cousteau Society research cruise to the Red Sea Coast of Sudan. Our purpose on this trip was to conduct an assessment of Sudan’s shark populations, which saw the initiation of the Sudan Divers Aware of Sharks program. Additionally at this time, with Cousteau society, we set in to motion the process of obtaining research permits from the Government of Sudan. Following the completion of my PhD in 2009, I began a postdoctoral fellowship, in conjunction with Cardiff University and the Bimini Biological Field Station studying the seasonal activity and distribution of large coastal shark species on the U.S. eastern seaboard. In February 2012 I began my second postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Windsor focused as part of the Arctic component of the Ocean Tracking Network (OTN). Here I am studying the movements, migrations and trophic ecology of Arctic cod, sculpin and Greenland sharks. Following a five year long campaign, we finally received research permits from the Sudanese government, which allowed the initiation of stage one of the Sudan Red Sea Shark and Ray Study in October 2012. We are now back in the field for stage two!"

Invited scientists – KAUST University

Michael Berumen

I conducted my PhD in Marine Biology from James Cook University, Australia and, today I am Assistant Professor of Marine Science at KAUST since 2009. My research interests are focused on coral reef ecology, including larval connectivity in coral reef fishes, movement ecology of coral reef organisms, biogeography and the impact of climate change on coral reef ecosystems. These projects utilize techniques ranging from simple in-situ observations to parentage analysis using DNA microsatellite markers. I am a part of an international team developing techniques used to track the dispersal patterns of larval fish and am leading one of the world's largest whale shark tagging and tracking programs.

J’ai passé mon Doctorat en Biologie marine à l’Université James Cook en Australie, et aujourd’hui, je suis Assistant Professeur en Science marine à l’Université de Science et Technologie King Abdullah en Arabie Saoudite deouis 2009. Mes sujets de recherches se concentrent sur l’écologie des récifs coralliens, dont la connectivité des larves de poissons coralliens, les mouvements des organismes coralliens, la biogéographie et l’impact du changement climatique sur les écosystèmes coralliens. Ces projets font appel à différents techniques, de l’observation in situ à l’utilisation de marqueurs génétiques pour des analyses de parentés. Je fais également partie d’une équipe internationale qui développe des techniques utilisées pour suivre le dispersement des larves de poisson et je mène un des programmes les plus importants sur le marquage et le suivis des requins baleines.

Camrin Braun

I am an MSc student at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia. Previously, I worked at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) as a technician studying movements of large pelagic fishes in the Red Sea, South Pacific, and North Atlantic. My research combines various tracking and mapping technologies including satellite telemetry, light-based geolocation, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and other forms of spatial analysis to understand ecology of study species. At KAUST, I intend to focus my interest and experience in movement ecology on the large pelagic fish of the Red Sea.

Mark Priest

I have worked on a variety of research projects around the world with a general focus on tropical reef systems. However, my main research interests revolve around coral reef fish ecology and sustainable management of reef fishes. Most recently, I have been using genetic techniques to assess connectivity in reef fish populations across the Pacific. I am looking forward to assisting on the current project as we will be working in a location very few people get to visit and producing tangible outcomes relevant for the management of local marine resources.

Tane Sinclair Taylor

I am the marine field technician for the Red Sea Research Center (KAUST) and the Coral Reef Ecology Lab where I am involved in numerous marine based research expeditions throughout the red sea and around the world. I completed my honours degree in marine biology and ecology at the University of Queensland, Australia and have worked as a technician specializing in field intensive research for various academic institutes including; The University of Queensland, James Cook University, Australian Institute of Marine Science and The Australian Museum.

Julia Spät

I have conducted elasmobranch research for over 10 years now, working on lemon shark (Negaprion brevirostris) ecology and sensory biology for both my BSc and MSc theses with Dr. Samuel Gruber at the Bimini Biological Field Station Bahamas. Following my Masters I continued studying sharks in the Bahamas (Cape Eleuthera Institute) conducting a study to validate the use of baited remote underwater video surveys for assessing the diversity, distribution and abundance of a range of different shark species.

I started my PhD in 2009 at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, MA, US and in 2010 transferred it to KAUST. Since then I have employed BRUV, longline and market surveys in combination with genetic analysis to investigate the diversity, abundance, movements and fisheries of Red Sea elasmobranch populations. My project, using a range of different survey methods as bi-monthly market surveys, baited remote underwater video and longline surveys, in conjunction with population genetic techniques, seeks to provide data that is urgently needed for management and conservation measures in the region.

Cousteau Divers members

Lisa Capelli – Italy

In 2012, I graduated in Marine Biology at University of Bologna in Italy. My work was focused on DNA bar-coding taxonomy and diversity of the Mediterranean sharks and rays. The aim of my work was to improve species identification, which is critical for the design of sustainable fisheries and appropriate management plans.

I am also a Dive Instructor since 2011. Since then, I worked in different diving centers as an instructor and actually I have the same role in the swimming pool in Bologna. I like traveling around the world for diving and discovering other cultures. I have been in Bali once and 6 times in the Red Sea, I also spent 7 months in Australia (Shark bay, Great barier reef, Port Lincoln).

Burçak Özteki - Turkey

“I have worked for the European Union ever since my professional life embarked on in 2002. From 2002 to 2007, I worked as ‘Communication and Information Consultant’ for a EU funded project, namely ‘Support to the Quality Infrastructure in Turkey’, staffed by the British Standards Institution. My task was to manage the awareness raising campaigns, databases, as well as online libraries. Between 2007 until 2010, I continued to work as a Consultant in EU funded projects with a similar profile. For almost three years now, I am a permanent staff of the European Commission in Turkey.

I have always enjoyed the journey, no matter what the destination is. After I started scuba diving in 2010, ‘travel’ meant ‘diving anywhere’! My priority is the Ocean since then and I've been to several dive spots in Turkey, in the Red Sea, in Malaysia, and Cyprus. After all, diving is going somewhere, meeting new people and doing things. But most of all, dive is fun (ref. PADI)!”

The expedition team (minus Nigel Hussey) - From left to right: Camrin Braun, Julia Spät, Tane Sinclair Taylor, Steven Kessel, Burçak Öztekin, Noémie Stroh, Mark Priest, Lisa Capelli, Claudio Scarpellini, Michael Berumen.