The oceans and its creatures always stirred a sense of curiosity and wonder in Alissa. But when she first began working on elasmobranchs, she knew it was the beginning of her journey with these beautiful marine beings! During and after her masters, under the guidance of Dr. Dipani Sutaria and Dr. Rima Jabado, she gathered baseline data on sharks that were landed across the north western coast of India – Gujarat which contributed to a larger project funded by the Save our Seas Foundation. She then worked with Dakshin Foundation and shifted her focus from the west to the east coast (State of Odisha) of India. Here she attempted to document the trends of elasmobranch fisheries with respect to crafts and gear, demand, and catch over the last 40 years. She is currently working on a proposal to understand intersexuality in sharks and why such individuals occur.
Zoya is interested in marine ecology, particularly in elasmobranchs, coral reef ecosystems, and efforts to conserve them. Her past experiences involve working as an education officer with Andaman Nicobar Environment Team, India, where she developed and coordinated marine related education programs targeting higher education programs and local communities. Simultaneously, she researched the terrestrial behaviour of sea kraits, and was part of a project studying reef resilience in the Andaman Islands, India. For the past year, she has been assessing the conservation status of elasmobranchs in the Andamans and Nicobar Islands supported by the Rufford Foundation and Conservation Leadership Programme.
Dipani is a freelance ecologist based in Ahmedabad, India who has spent the last 15 years involved in marine research studying aquatic systems, marine mammals, and elasmobranchs. Her PhD study through James Cook University, Townsville, Australia investigated the population size and threats to Irrawaddy dolphins in Chilika Lagoon in eastern India. She is currently still affiliated to James Cook University as an Adjunct Research Fellow and is also a member of the IUCN Cetacean Specialist Group. Her research focuses on animal behaviour, habitat ecology, and socio-ecological systems. She works with and advises students and ‘in-between’ researchers who are interested in ecology and conservation and wish to explore options before moving on to a PhD. Since 2014, she has led and supervised projects on sharks and rays in Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands to understand shark fisheries and the role of stakeholders in shark conservation.
Evan has been fascinated by marine life since a very young age. Coming from a country that hosts one of the top three shark and ray fisheries in the world, his aim is to use research as a tool to provide awareness of the current plight of these ecologically crucial animals. He began working on elasmobranchs during his undergraduate studies, when he volunteered on a project funded by the Save Our Seas Foundation which focused on monitoring elasmobranch fisheries along the west coast of India. His newly found passion towards elasmobranch conservation influenced him to pursue a Marine Biology postgraduate course with Pondicherry University based on the Andaman Islands. Since then, he has volunteered on multiple projects aimed towards gathering information to support conservation initiatives for sharks, rays, and cetaceans. He is currently working towards initiating an independent project that will shine light on crucial stages in the life history of the Vulnerable Sharpnose Guitarfish (Glaucostegus granulatus) in the Andaman Islands.
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Rima is a scientist and conservationist with a passion for all things marine. Having lived by the sea her whole life, she has always been fascinated with nature and the environment and wanted to study and protect animals even as a child. She has spent over 15 years developing and working on conservation initiatives around the world and has experience as a field research scientist, director for non-profit organisations, and government official. Rima has travelled extensively and assisted in research undertaken on sharks, rays, dolphins, turtles, coral reefs, and seagrass beds in places like the Bahamas, South Africa, US, Australia, Kuwait, Qatar, Iran, India, Senegal, and the UAE.
Rima has a B.A. in Political Science, a Masters of Applied Sciences in Natural Resource Management, a PhD in Environmental Science and Ecology and several other graduate degrees including Public Relations and Education. She has authored/co-authored over 45 scientific, technical, and popular publications, lectured at schools and universities, and appeared in radio and television productions. Her work on sharks and rays has been featured in various local and international media outlets including National Geographic, BBC, Scientific American, Gulf News, The National, and the Khaleej Times. She has published a book on marine ecosystems in the UAE, an identification guide for sharks in the Arabian Seas Region, and an IUCN report on the conservation status of sharks, rays, and chimaeras in the Arabian Sea and adjacent waters. She is also the Regional Co-Chair (Indian Ocean) of the IUCN Shark Specialist Group, a member of the IUCN Marine Conservation Committee, and sits on the Advisory Committee for the Convention on Migratory Species Sharks MoU as a representative of the Asia region. She has received various grants and awards in support and recognition of her work on sharks and rays in the UAE and broader northwestern Indian Ocean.
Her PhD research on shark populations along the UAE coast of the Arabian Gulf was the first long-term research project to be completed on elasmobranchs in the northwest Indian Ocean. She interviewed fishermen across the country and examined the artisanal fishery in the UAE describing species composition, population abundance, and distribution; studied the feeding ecology of two commercially important species; and characterised the international trade in shark products from the UAE. She is currently collaborating with scientists from around the world on various projects on marine turtles and elasmobranchs and is coordinating a project investigating bycatch in industrial fisheries across seven countries in West Africa. Her long-term goal is to develop projects that will allow her to gather scientific data on wildlife and ecosystems that will influence decision makers to implement meaningful measures for the protection and conservation of the marine environment. She is particularly interested in issues of human-wildlife conflict such as fisheries, bycatch, and threatened species conservation as well as socio-economic aspects of the trade in marine products. Her goal with the Gulf Elasmo Project is to have it play a key role in helping document and understand the diversity of sharks and rays in countries surrounding the Indian Ocean. This is particularly important because of the many conservation challenges in the region combined with opportunities to collect new data, involve and build the capacity of local communities, as well as inform and influence policy.
Lucia is a young and enthusiastic marine scientist that has always been fascinated with the sea. She has a Bachelor's in Oceanography and a Masters in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation. Her aim is to combine her oceanographic knowledge with marine biology in order to enhance her understanding of species habitats and interactions. This knowledge will be crucial for effective protection, conservation, recovery, and awareness of the marine ecosystems and species inhabiting them.
Since she started her academic studies, she has had the opportunity to work on various project around the world through various universities and research stations including UNIVALI (Santa Catarina, Brazil), University of the Algarve (Faro, Portugal), University of Gent (Gent, Belgium) and University of Paris - Pierre et Marie Curie (Including Marine Stations of Villefranche sur mer, Roscoff and Banyulls sur mer). Her work has focused on oceanography, molecular and cell biology, biodiversity monitoring, the ecology and behaviour of marine mammals, the creation of Marine Protected Areas and the conservation and restoration of marine resources. While volunteering for the Gulf Elasmo Project, she has strived to increase awareness about the status of elasmobranchs in the region by engaging with students, the community, and various other stakeholders. Lucia has just launched the Angola Elasmo Project investigating elasmobranch fisheries in Angola, a country where very limited has been undertaken on these species.