Meet NACC NRM’s newest recruit! Alanah has joined our Coastal and Marine team this year, and has written a few words for this month’s #PeopleOfNRM to introduce herself!
I grew up mostly in the South West, moving to Australind from Rockingham when I was 6 years old. I also spent a year of my very early days on our family friend’s station, about 4 hours inland from Carnarvon.
Like most of the Australian population, my family have always gravitated towards being in, on or near the ocean as much as possible. My mum is the original environmentalist of our family, always prioritising sustainable choices and collecting (almost) every piece of rubbish she sees. Career wise, I mostly ended up in the marine/environmental field by happy accident. At university I chose to study environmental science as the field seemed very broad and like a great place (for a rather indecisive 18-year-old) to start. I added marine science in my second year when I realised the units had a lot more ocean and interesting lab-based activities.
I’ve moved to sunny Geraldton to start as a Coastcare Support Officer! I have been very privileged to travel overseas to volunteer, intern and work with a variety of conservation based organisations, exploring different areas of the marine and conservation fields. I spent about 12 months in northern Madagascar, working with a conservation and research based organisation in roles of community education and turtle monitoring. I also had the opportunity to volunteer and intern for three separate organisations across Malaysia, working mostly in marine conservation and research. I was very lucky to participate in a variety of methodological approaches to coral reef and seagrass monitoring.
I have had so many wonderful experiences of working in the coastal and marine space, especially while being abroad. In Madagascar, I helped establish the organisation’s turtle monitoring program. We had a small population of green and hawksbill sea turtles nesting on one beach of the small (25km2) island where the camp was based. Unfortunately, due to a variety of local and global stressors, intervention was often required to translocate nests further up the beach to where they would be protected from the high tide line. I was very lucky to witness many nesting turtles and emerging hatchlings. Other major highlights include diving with a range of wonderful sea life including schools of bump head parrotfish, sea kraits and illusive macrofauna.
I think we have such a diverse, vast corner of the world in WA. We have cold, clear blue waters and white sandy beaches in the south, to warm murky waters and red dirt beaches in the north, with a variety of wonderful landscapes in between. No matter what your water/coast based activity or passion is, you will find somewhere in WA where there is a vibrant community that feels the same way.
Something I’d love to see change within the coastal and marine industry lies with the primary focus shifting from economic growth and human convenience to ecosystem sustainability. My vision for the future (through rose coloured glasses) is a slower-paced world with a reliance on predominately renewable energy sources, and no species extinctions. It would be a world where we live within our means, eat local and sustainable produce, and spend abundant time in nature.
I am looking forward to working closely with the community on a variety of coastal and marine projects. You’ll find me out in the field as much as possible, learning and teaching along the way. I hope to expand on my local marine creature knowledge too!