SMSG People

The Shallow Marine Surveys Group is comprised of scientists, dive enthusiasts, and volunteers from the Falklands community.


Lauren Shea

LaurenLauren is a research diver with the Shallow Marine Surveys Group and is currently working on both collecting data and analysing the photos from benthic transects that the SMSG and SAERI have collected.  She became a scientific diver during her undergraduate studies at the University of South Florida and later as a dive instructor. Most of her research diving has been throughout Florida and the Caribbean, as well as, Saudi Arabia and New Zealand. Although the Falkland Islands have been her coldest diving experience thus far, she hopes to continue her way south to Antarctica. Her research interests include marine benthic ecology, biodiversity, and marine spatial planning. Lauren is also a Wilderness First Responder and has her IYT yachtmaster limited sail ticket.

 

Dr Ander de Lecea

Ander

Ander arrived in the Falkland Islands in 2018 to take up a position as the project manager for the Fine Scaling of the Marine Management Area project (DPLUS071) at SAERI. With SMSG being one of the project partners, Ander quickly became involved with them in order to conduct part of his research in remote parts of the islands. He has now become part of the SMSG family and is looking forward to diving with them outside the scope of his project.

Prior to arriving in the Falklands, Ander, who is originally from Spain, has lived in various corners of the world over the last 18 years. In many of these locations, he has gotten to enjoy some amazing diving. Professionally, he completed his PhD in 2012 in South Africa focusing on the transfer of organic matter between marine and terrestrial ecosystems and how these transfers sustain complex benthic food-webs. He later conducted research on the geological evolution of Maputo Bay, Mozambique, over the last 12,000 yrs. Prior to his arrival in the Falklands, Ander was a senior lecturer and researcher at the University of Seychelles.

 

Dr Marina Costa

Marina Costa 4

Marina Costa holds a MSc degree in Biology and a MSc degree in Environmental Policy and Economy (Statale University of Milan, Italy) and a PhD in Marine Biology (St Andrews University, Scotland, UK). She boasts a broad and long background in marine biology, working with marine benthic communities in the Mediterranean Sea and cetacean communities in several regions, including Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea, North Sea and Red Sea. Since 2002 Marina has been collaborating with the Tethys Research Institute (of which she is a proud member) studying presence, abundance and habitat use of cetaceans, in Greece and Italy (Adriatic Sea and Strait of Messina). In 2005-2006 she was the project manager and principal investigator for the project Dolphin Habitat Conservation and Sustainable Use - Pilot Experience in the Egyptian Coastal Red Sea focusing on Stenella longirostris abundance and residency. From 2010 to 2012 she was the Senior Marine Biologist and Consultant for the project Sustainable Development in the Southern Egyptian Red Sea, with the Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation (HEPCA). The project aimed studying abundance and distribution of marine mammals (cetaceans and dugong) in the southern Egyptian waters of the Red Sea using distance sampling methodology. Marina professional interests are focused on cetacean abundance and habitat modelling together with development of awareness, education and capacity building to make research a tool for real conservation. Marina is an experienced boat skipper, accomplished field cetologist and advanced scuba diver. She can speak Italian, English, French and some Modern Greek.

 

Dr Thomas Farrugia

Thomas compressorThomas is a marine biologist and fisheries stock assessment scientist with the Falkland Islands Fisheries Department. Originally from California, Thomas spent 7 years in Alaska where he learned to drysuit dive by making a hole in the ice on lakes and quarries. Never really growing out of his boyhood interest in sharks, he did his MSc at Cal State Long Beach and PhD at the University of Alaska studying various aspects of elasmobranch (sharks, skates and rays) ecology, including movement patterns, habitat use, diet, population dynamics, nutritional value, and receptivity to wearing head-mounted lasers. Thomas got his dive certification at 15, has been diving all over the world for work and pleasure, and is now very excited to be part of SMSG where he can explore the local underwater environments and contribute to the knowledge of marine life in the Falkland Islands.

Ness Smith

NessNess holds a Biology degree from the University of York and an MSc in Tropical Coastal Management from Newcastle University. She has a broad range of experience in both tropical and temperate marine scientific research and management, with an emphasis on the study of complex socio-ecological systems.  Working alongside Defra and the Marine Management Organisation, Ness helped to pioneer new methods in marine spatial planning (MSP). Her interest in the ecosystem services approach developed as a result of her MSP experience, and she went on to manage a large interdisciplinary European project which developed a framework to value marine ecosystem services. More recently, Ness has worked with governments and intergovernmental organisations to address the high seas governance reforms needed to reduce the global impact of IUU fishing. Ness has been diving for over twenty years, learning – like so many people in the UK – in Stoney Cove, and has since been privileged to dive all over the world for work and pleasure. Highlights include surveying pristine reefs in the Solomon Islands, finally meeting hundreds of schooling hammerheads in the Galapagos, and diving the ‘shallow’ Lophelia reefs in Trondheimfjord, Norway. She is particularly obsessed with nudibranchs but generally enjoys getting up close to any invert! Ness also has a passion for wreck diving and has spent many happy hours getting rusty around the UK, Norway and as far afield as Chuuk Lagoon. Ness is a PADI dive instructor, a qualified trimix diver and has recently switched to CCR diving. She had to leave her beloved CCR behind on moving to the Falkland Islands, but is thoroughly enjoying  single tank survey dives on the stunning shallow coastal reefs around the Islands. She just wishes that all the sea stars didn’t look quite so similar!

Steve Cartwright

p3142915Steve is co-founder, Director, and current Chairman of the group. He is also the diver and boating safety officer, a research diver and coxswain. Steve is the owner of "Chancer" a 28ft American Fastfisher adapted for use as a dive platform, from which most of the diving around the Stanley area is undertaken. Steve has been diving in these cool waters since 1995.Originally from Yorkshire, England, Steve moved to the Falkland Islands in 1984.  His boating career includes working as a coxswain for Sulivan Shipping Services Limited in the Falkland Islands for 16 years, the last 10 as chief coxswain.  During this time he gained RYA qualifications and commercial endorsements in motorboating.

No PhD to report but if you need something done, fixed or found Steve's your man!

Dr Paul Brickle

Paul BricklePaul is co-founder of SMSG, research diver and one of the group’s marine biologists. Paul is currently the Director of the South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute (SAERI).  Paul grew up in Zambia and Malawi but for some reason sought cooler climes by attending universities in the UK and then working and living in the Falkland Islands.  Paul has a BSc (Hons) in Marine Biology from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. He also has an MSc and PhD from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland in fisheries biology and zoology respectively. Paul’s interests include the ecology and oceanography of the southern Patagonian Shelf, particularly the reproductive biology, age and growth, population dynamics and the population structure of marine species inhabiting the waters of this region. He also has a keen interest marine parasites and their use as biological tags for investigating the population structure and migration of fish hosts. Paul continues to be a part of a number of trophic studies of marine fish around the Falkland Islands and is interested in the environmental and fisheries impact on trophic structures in communities. Paul is also interested in shallow marine ecology, community ecology and biogeography of small isolated islands.

Dion Poncet

Dion PoncetDion is a Director of SMSG and research diver. Dion is also the skipper of the Hans Hansson. He is one of the most remarkable skippers on the high seas, having been born and raised on a yacht in the Southern Ocean.Inevitably, with this background there are few corners of the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia and Falkland Islands that Dion does not know. His working knowledge of high latitude charter vessels, coupled with his ability to fix almost anything, makes Dion a valuable addition to any project or expedition.Dion skippers our regular charter vessel the "Damien II", He is also one of the group's research divers and is involved in underwater photography and specimen collection.

 

 

Dr Paul Brewin

Paul BrewinPaul is a Director of the group and the current Secretary.  Paul has been a diver and research scientist with the group since 2010, starting out as SMSG's South Georgia Shallow Marine Program project officer.  Paul gained his PhD at the University of Otago, New Zealand, studying the deep-benthic community ecology in New Zealand's fjords, and has held a Post Doctoral Fellowship at the University of California San Diego, where he studied seamount community ecology and oceanography. Paul has an interest in marine benthic community ecology, fisheries science and oceanography. Paul also brings to the group a wealth of diving and deep-sea survey experience having worked extensively in Antarctic, temperate, and the tropical marine realms. Click here for a list of recent publications.

Juliette Hennequin

attachment.ashxHaving skippered sailing yachts in the Antarctic region as well as in the Arctic since 2004, Juliette has joined her partner Dion Poncet with whom she now runs the Hans Hansson. An accomplished sailor and a keen diver, Juliette also holds extensive knowledge of the Sub Antarctic and Antarctic regions. She was introduced to scuba diving here in the Falklands in 2013, and has rapidly become addicted to it. Her passion for the marine world has naturally brought her to join the SMSG team and she helps with boat driving, specimen collections, transect surveys, underwater photography, and Director of social media. 

 

Joost Pompert

DSC 4012 001Joost is regular weekend and expedition diver, surveyor, and scientist with the team.  He became involved with SMSG in 2012, after finishing his MSc (Zoology) by research in the Falklands through the University of Aberdeen. Joost is originally from the Netherlands, but travelled to and settled in the Falklands in 1989. After having worked for both the Falkland Islands Fisheries Department  and a local fishing company as a Scientific Fisheries Observer, he started leading the Observer team from 1997 onwards, and has done this ever since. Joost started diving in the mid 90’s doing his BSAC training both in the islands and finishing it off in Weymouth, primarily to be included on the dive surveys that the FIFD started to include within their research programme. With the FIFD he did regular surveys in port William as well as some surveys around the islands on the RV Dorada.

Sacha Cleminson

sacha cleminson mug shot 001I am a volunteer diver for SMSG. I will do anything to get myself the opportunity to float through the extraordinary gleaming forests of kelp of the Falkland Islands. I enjoy doing survey work and taking photos, getting to know a little of the lives of all the beasties down there. Working with and learning from the knowledgeable and fun members of SMSG is a great pleasure too.

I live with my wife and daughter in Stanley and work in wildlife conservation for my day job. I studied marine biology at St Andrews University surrounded by the equally chilly but exciting waters of Scotland. One day I look forward to finding somewhere warm to dive.

Jerry Pierce

JerryJerry is a non-scientific, volunteer member of the group and struggles with Latin (as he did at school!) but he is good at filling cylinders and an excellent underwatre photographer. He is living on the Falklands with his wife Moyra, who works at the local hospital. Jerry learnt to dive in the UK in 2008 and is a PADI Divemaster and has experience diving in Russia, Norway, Egypt, The Maldives, Mauritius, Shetland and the Orkney Islands. He is a keen photographer both above and below the surface and enjoys all aspects of working close to wildlife and the environment.

Natalie Winward

IMG 4389 cropHaving qualified in the mid 1990’s, I spent several happy years diving around cod–filled and dark Dorset shipwrecks and the beautiful Devon and Cornish waters of the South West English coast. Then North with nosey Scottish seals and their leggy, spider- crab companions, qualifying as a PADI Rescue Diver.

In a dense and somewhat unnerving Falklands blizzard, my family and I landed in August 2013. I have been diving with the SMSG since the following October, helping with their underwater surveys, photographs and collections and generally having a really good time.

Dr Martin Collins

Martin CollinsMartin is involved in research diving, photography, and identification of marine fauna. Having moved here in 2009 Martin, is now the outgoing Director of Fisheries and Senior Executive for South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. Originally from Liverpool, Martin first came to the Falklands as a fisheries observer in 1990, but left after a year to undertake a PhD investigating the ecology of squid around the Irish Coast. After completing his PhD Martin worked at Aberdeen University, researching deep-sea fish ecology and lecturing. During his time in Aberdeen Martin learned to dive in the cool Scottish waters and has dived sporadically ever since in various parts of the world.  In 2002, after seven years in Aberdeen, Martin moved to the British Antarctic Survey to work on the ecology of Southern Ocean nekton (fish and squid).

Sarah Browning

Sarah BrowningSarah has been living in the Falkland Islands since August 2011, arriving with her husband Simon who was posted there with the Army. Diving since 2004 Sarah is a BSAC Advanced Diver, Assistant Instructor and Diver Coxswain. She has enjoyed the sport all over the world in locations such as the Maldives, Oman, Tobago, Easter Island, Ascension Island and the UK.

A keen all round conservationist, Sarah has undertaken diving with Sea Search UK, volunteered with the Episkopi Turtle watch in Cyprus and more recently in the Falklands; diving with SMSG and topside working for Falklands Conservation recording and controlling invasive plants. Sarah is a support diver with SMSG helping with specimen collection and identification, transact surveys and underwater photography. Sarah and Simon were the SMSG Logistics planners for two expeditions to Ascension Island in 2012 and 2013.

 

Simon Browning

Simon BrowningSimon graduated from Swansea University in Environmental Biology before heading to Ireland delivery research support to Matt Murphy at Sherkin Island, where he led the Littoral Flora and Fauna survey team, red seaweeds his specialisation. He attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and commissioned as a Logistics Officer he has followed the flag for 24 years to see deployments across the globe which has included Belize, Kuwait, Iraq, Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Germany, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and finally to the Falkland Islands. A diver of over 25 years he is a BSAC Dive Leader and Diver Coxwain. His passion for marine biology never far from the surface Simon has been diving regularly with the Shallow Marine Survey Group for the last 24 months, fascinated by the diverse marine life and enthralled by the Fur Seals and Sea Lions.

Simon is a support diver with SMSG helping with specimen collections, transact surveys and underwater photography. Simon and his wife Sarah were the SMSG Logistics planners for two expeditions to Ascension Island in 2012 and 2013.

 

Steve Brown

Steve BrownSteve is a member of the Shallow Marine Surveys Group technical services team as well as one of the research divers and photographers. Steve is used to functioning in cold climes having worked for the British Antarctic survey for 6 years, working on all of their Antarctic stations initially as an electrician then in a management role. As well as his ability to fix most things Steve also has his RYA powerboat qualification.  Steve was introduced to the ways of diving in Bonaire in the Dutch Antilles and has since become truly addicted and has had the opportunity to dive in the Maldives, UK, Easter Island, Red Sea and the Falklands.

 

Dr Judith Brown

Jude BrownJoining SMSG in its infancy Judith has been a keen member of the group since 2008 and is involved in the research diving, photography and identifying of marine critters.  Judith took up diving in 1991 in her home waters in the North east of England and is a BSAC Advanced diver and is HSE IV qualified. She has a BSc in Applied Marine Biology from Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh and completed her PhD on the ecology and life history of Patagonian toothfish whilst working in the Falkland Islands. Employed mainly in fisheries research and on marine biodiversity projects, Judith is working her way around the South Atlantic Islands! She spent two years on South Georgia studying the commercially important fish species in the area for the British Antarctic Survey and then spent six months on Signy Island as a freshwater limnologist. Next she spent 2 ½ years in the UK based in the Lake District with Eden Rivers Trust carrying out surveys on the salmonid populations and on river restoration projects. Judith then moved to the Falklands to work for the Falkland Island Government Fisheries Department, researching Patagonian toothfish (ageing, reproduction, diet and migration studies) and then worked for South Georgia Government as their Fisheries Scientist. During her time on Falklands she took part in all the SMSG research trips around the islands as well as to South Georgia and two expeditions to Ascension Island. As the Project manager on a Darwin funded Marine Biodiversity project she then spent two years on St Helena (amongst other things writing a book on the inshore marine life!) before moving to her current position as Director of Fisheries on Ascension Island.

 

Dr Vladimir Laptikhovsky

Vlad LaptikhovskySince 1999 Vlad worked in the Falkland Islands Government Fisheries Department, and has been a diver and research scientist with SMSG. In 2013 he moved to the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS, Lowestoft) where he is involved in stock assessment of different marine fish and invertebrates of the Atlantic Ocean and Antarctic. He is an official scientific expert of the European Commission's Directorate-General on Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG-MARE) working for the Joint Scientific Committee within the EU-Morocco Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement.  Despite being away from the Falklands, Vlad still joins SMSG on expeditions to Ascension, and beyond.

 

Dr Wetjens Dimmlich

Wetjens DimmlichWetjens is a Director of the group. He is also a research diver and photographer. Originally from Port Elizabeth, South Africa. He moved to Melbourne, Australia and obtained his BSc in Zoology and GIS/Remote Sensing at James Cook University of North Queensland. He worked in fisheries research around Australia for a decade before accepting a PhD scholarship in Fisheries Science at Adelaide University. A keen photographer, Wetjens has also been diving since 1986.

Wetjens began his career working on the ecology and conservation of marine turtles in tropical Australia and has since been involved in many other research projects, with particular emphasis on pelagic fish species. He studied the prey species of the little penguin (Eudyptulaminor) in Victoria for several years before moving to South Australia to develop fisheries monitoring protocols for the nascent sardine (Sardinopssagax) fishing industry in that state.  His main focus before moving to the Falkland Islands has been an investigation of the biology, life history and stock assessment of anchovies (Engraulisaustralis) in South Australian waters. During three years with the Falkland Islands Fisheries Department, Wetjens was involved in oceanographic studies in addition to stock assessment and management of commercially fished species around the Falkland Islands.

Wetjens currently works in the Seychelles. where he is the Indian Ocean Tuna Manager for the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

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