We’re a nature-loving couple from Australia (Mads) and New Zealand (Simon). We’ve started this website – Ocean Tripper – because we’re both huge marine wildlife geeks. Simon is even a professional ocean geek, aka marine biologist. Anyway, our idea of a fun time is to either be learning about the ocean, or be in it.
We also like to encourage other people to do the same sort of thing. To that end, we want this site to be helpful. For you. It’s (very) new, but we’re both busy writing up lots of articles on how to have great wildlife encounters (with responsible marine ecotourism operators), as well as our gear recommendations to keep you safe and comfortable in the water, and how to get great photos and videos while you’re out having fun.
There’ll also be lots of general nerd humour about ocean animals because, frankly, Simon can’t help himself.
We’ll be posting new articles in Simon’s newsletter as they’re finished, so sign up there to keep up with developments. We’re pretty excited about all this. Contact us at info ‘at’ oceantripper.wpengine.com to chat about it!
Here’s a bit more information about us:
I’m a designer from Brisbane, Australia. I grew up at the beach and around the water – mum even let me take a week off school so I could watch the pool get built in our backyard. Sometime later, I realised that most of my friends are marine biologists. I thought I’d better check out this whole “diving” business for myself.
Unsurprisingly, I got hooked quickly. Since then I’ve visited some world-famous diving areas, including Raja Ampat and Lembeh in Indonesia, as well as great sites like Byron Bay and North Stradbroke Island a bit closer to home in Australia. I’m also a keen freediver.
I’ve spent a lot of time looking at product design and human behaviour during my professional career, and I love watching animals and figuring out what they’re up to as well. Lately, I’ve been getting into wildlife photography, which has proven to be a great excuse to hang out and see what’s going on.
I’m also really good at finding pygmy seahorses. I’m owning that. Super good.
Simon J Pierce, PhD
I grew up on a farm near New Plymouth, New Zealand, climbing trees and falling out of them. Sometimes, for a change, I explored rivers and fell into them. It was tough to get me inside, but inevitably, if I was, I’d either be watching nature documentaries or reading books about animals.
Inevitably (and fortunately) I became a biologist, being spectacularly unqualified to do anything else. I completed a BSc in Ecology in NZ, then moved to Brisbane to study for an Honours then PhD degree on coastal sharks and rays. My labmate and buddy Andrea Marshall (who was studying manta rays for her own PhD) invited me to visit her work in Mozambique, and especially to have a look at the whale sharks over there.
Turns out whale sharks are pretty cool. Andrea and I eventually started a US-based marine research and conservation non-profit, the Marine Megafauna Foundation, where I lead the global whale shark programme. I also do some collaborative work on manta rays, sea turtles, marlin and various other threatened marine species. I’m a (voluntary) regional Co-Chair for the IUCN Shark Specialist Group, a board member for the Sawfish Conservation Society, and Science Advisor to the Wildbook for Whale Sharks global photo-identification database.
I’ve gotten reeeeeeally into marine wildlife photography over the past few years. My photographs and videos are used quite regularly in major international media outlets such as the BBC, National Geographic, Nature, Washington Post, Discovery, Animal Planet, New Scientist, and The Guardian. One of my photos was used by PADI for their Advanced scuba diving certification card. I’m always happy to see my images used to support marine conservation initiatives, and they’ve been used in campaigns by national and international organisations including the United Nations, Sail Against Plastic, Galapagos National Park, the Shark Trust, Google Voyager, Galapagos Conservation Trust, the Australian and Sri Lankan governments, the Wildlife Trust of India, Tubbataha Management Office (Philippines), the International Coral Reef Initiative and various WWF country offices.
Over the next year I’ll be hosting public research and photography trips for MMF in Komodo and Raja Ampat (Indonesia), Galapagos Islands (Ecuador) and Mafia Island (Tanzania), and working as a “Photographer in Residence” for G Adventures on some of their upcoming Arctic and Antarctic trips.
You can find some more information on my marine biology work at simonjpierce.com, and I post sporadic photos and updates from the field on Instagram. I also really enjoy writing articles for my newsletter, and as a columnist for Oceanographic Magazine.