In the year 2000 I began my photojournalism career by volunteering on conservation projects. Since then I have participated in many different environmental projects and pilot ecotourism programs where I have worked alongside some of the most inspiring scientific people studying some of the world’s rarest species of animals and plants.
Conservation, including habitat rehabilitation, captive breeding programs, genetic viability studies, longitudinal studies, species counts, breeding ground surveys, weed removal projects and multi-pronged projects involving collaborations between indigenous cultures and science have underpinned my entire career.
I believe that photography and accurate photojournalism are vital tools to the survival of some species. If people do not see one of the beautiful animals I share my world with or read an engaging story describing their character, how on earth will anyone be moved enough to protect them?
I have participated in over thirty different conservation projects in Australia, New Zealand and Antarctica. A snapshot of some these is below:
The Southern Oceans Seabird Study Association (SOSSA) based in Wollongong, Australia, is the longest continual study of the Wandering Albatross at sea in the world.
I took my ﬁrst journey with SOSSA in 2000, had an Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross placed on my lap while scientists worked with it and I fell in love.
Since then I have done countless sea trips with SOSSA, handling albatrosses and other tube-nosed seabirds, rescuing injured animals and participating in counts of marine megafauna including Humpback whales, dolphins, Sunﬁsh and other pelagic creatures. In 2003 I was appointed to the board of SOSSA as their publicity ofﬁcer and I retain a position on their board to this day.
My articles on SOSSA have appeared in Australian Traveller, Club Marine magazine, The Bird Observer and The Albatross.
Macquarie Island Rat and Rabbit Eradication Project
In 2007 I visited Macquarie Island, one of Australiaʼs Sub-Antarctic territories, lying half way between Tasmania and the Antarctic pack ice.
As I arrived there I was stunned to watch the air become clear of seabirds. After visiting the seabird rich breeding islands of Sub-Antarctic New Zealand, I wondered what was wrong. Then I landed and saw the devastation. The hillside of Macquarie were completely eroded, a consequence of overgrazing from rabbits.
These naked hills were causing landslides that killed wildlife, destroyed research platforms and the rabbits had begun to use seabird burrows as their warrens, effectively pushing endangered seabirds out of their breeding grounds. In 2011, a successful ongoing program to eradicate the rats and rabbits off Macquarie began.
My articles on the rat and rabbit devastation on Macquarie Island have appeared in Ocean Geographic, Wildlife Australia, Club Marine magazine and Australian Traveller.
Cape York Turtle Rescue
The Gulf of Carpentaria in northern Australia is effectively one of Australiaʼs largest ocean gyres. Its large, bay-like geography creates a spiral current that traps tonnes of marine rubbish and ﬁshing debris every year. The bulk of this rubbish is drift or ʻghostʼ nets and non-biodegradable plastics which have created havoc for the marine wildlife living in the gulf.
Drifting aimlessly around the ocean, ghost nets indiscriminately trap wildlife like dolphins and turtles. Plastics in the same environment subject many creatures to ingestion that can cause death. Sadly the peril doesnʼt ﬁnish at the high tide mark. For nesting sea turtles the Gulf of Carpentaria, its remote beaches and its shallow seagrass beds provide a lush habitat for breeding. Patrolling the beach, however are feral dogs and pigs that raid sea turtle nests for eggs or attack females laying eggs.
I covered an innovative collaboration between indigenous people and scientists working to protect sea turtle nests from feral pests, removing ghost nets from the beach and monitoring numbers of sea turtles using a remote beach on Western Cape York to breed.
My articles on the Carpentaria Ghost Net Program appeared in Asian Geographic, Club Marine magazine, Wildlife Australia, Australian Traveller and Australasia Scuba Diver.
Conservation of New South Wales Coastal Islands
During my work with SOSSA and Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA) I have been blessed to work on every coastal island in New South Wales from Sydney, south to the border of Victoria.
These rugged and difﬁcult to access islands are important seabird breeding areas and protected habitat for marine life including the Grey Nurse Shark. I have participated in numerous surveys on these islands including littoral zone monitoring, water quality surveys, seabird breeding surveys and I also took part in the pilot ecotourism project on Montague Island, home to the second largest breeding colony of Little Penguins in Australia.
My articles on Montague Island and the other islands of New South Wales have appeared in Australian Geographic, Club Marine magazine, Cruising Helmsman, Shorebird News and The Albatross.
My images of these islands have endorsed public education campaigns designed to extend the green zones around each island and the campaigns to protect individual islands as important biospheres for wildlife.
Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby Project
Brush-tailed Rock Wallabies used to be common in Australia. Due to a number of terrestrial threats, sadly they have declined to the point where they are classiﬁed as Critically Endangered in Victoria and Vulnerable in New South Wales.
I have worked with the Victorian population of Brush-tailed Rock Wallabies that used to have a stronghold in the Grampians National Park. Involving broad scale habitat rehabilitation, captive breeding programs, surrogacy, fox pad monitoring, replanting, ﬂora species surveys and satellite tracking, the Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby project in Victoria was comprehensive, considered and represented the last hope for these beautiful animals in the wild.
I travelled to breeding facilities in Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory and Dunkeld in the Grampians. I also participated in habitat rehabilitation, small mammal monitoring, fox pad monitoring and den site surveys during my work on this program.
My stories from the Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby Program appeared in Wildlife Australia, Transitions Abroad (USA) and Australian Traveller. My photographs endorsed public education campaigns across the entire range of this species, websites, brochures, media kits and posters.
Orange-bellied Parrot Conservation
In 2011 I ﬂew to the remote outpost airstrip of Melaleuca in the stunning region of South West Tasmania. Melaleuca is the last known wild habitat for one of the worldʼs rarest parrots, the Orange-bellied Parrot. Flying in to Melaleuca in a tiny Cessna, the sheer magnitude of the landscape unfolding below the plane, I struggled to imagine how a tiny, rainbow coloured parrot could survive in such a rugged and isolated place.
Even in summer, sleet storms and squally winds can descend on you in seconds and plunge the world of the Orange-bellied Parrots into a mysterious fog.
Numbering less than 50 individuals in the wild, Orange-bellied Parrots migrate annually to escape the winter. Their ﬁnal destination is the somewhat warmer climes of mainland Australia. Sadly it is this migration that causes these tiny parrots the most harm.
When they reach their destination they encounter wind farms, burgeoning population growth on their coastal habitat and climate induced higher tides swallowing their salt marsh feeding grounds.
My story on the plight of Orange-bellied Parrot was published by Australian Geographic.