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Meet the Project Team

Program & Research Coordinator

Dr Carley Bansemer is the research coordinator for the GNSRCEP and has been involved in GNS research and management since 2000. She completed her PhD at the University of Queensland (UQ) in 2009 under Professor Mike Bennett on the "Population biology, distribution, movement patterns and conservation requirements of the Grey Nurse Shark". Working for the Queensland Government (focusing mostly on marine park management) since 1998 she is dedicated to forging stronger links between research and conservation management. Dr Bansemer and Professor Bennett have published several peer reviewed scientific papers and reports on the east coast GNS population that led to the acceptance of photo-identification as a robust and effective method to monitor the GNS population status and trends. Carley is passionate about research and monitoring relevant to GNS management being continued through a publically available, independent community based photo-identification program that is scientifically robust and cost efficient. Photos taken by Carley and provided to her by the diving community led to a photographic catalogue of nearly 1000 individually identified GNS that forms the base library for the GNSW program to build upon. Dr Bansemer and Professor Bennett are also supervising PhD candidate Deborah Bowden who they hope will lead them closer to identifying where the ‘missing' 50 % of mature females (that do not reside at Wolf Rock during most of their pregnancy) congregate. This challenging quest is the other core research focus of the GNSRCEP known as ‘Missing in Action'.

Grey Nurse Shark Watch co-Coordinator

Sue Sargent is currenlty providing GNS Watch with her expertise and project support as required. Sue previously managed the Grey Nurse Shark Research and Community Engagement Program (GNSRCEP) on behalf of Fauna & Flora International as well as coordinating actions between partners and taking a lead with partnership development, funding applications and communication. Sue is also a marine biologist, diver and an advocate for community participation in coastal and marine research. Sue has been working with grey nurse sharks since 1992 and supporting grey nurse shark conservation in Queensland from 2005.


Grey Nurse Shark Watch Volunteer Project Officers

Niamh McSweeney

Niamh is a marine biologist from Ireland who has a great interest in nature and conservation. She is currently on a working holiday in Australia where she hopes to encounter new and amazing experiences. So far Australia has exceeded her expectations!

From grape picking in WA to dairy farming in NSW to scuba diving with Grey nurse sharks and photo id-ing them in QLD, she feels it has been an awesome adventure so far. Getting the chance to volunteer for GNSW she thinks it is an exciting opportunity for her to expand her knowledge and skills. She is delighted that she gets to help conserve a species that she thinks is beautiful and very important for the ecosystem of the East Coast of Australia.  

Michaela Rathbone 

Michaela is a second year undergraduate at the University of Queensland, majoring in marine biology and zoology. Having worked in the diving industry for several years, she has been lucky enough to experience many amazing encounters with Australia’s grey nurse sharks. She is interested in animal behaviour and conservation, but has always had a love for pelagic sharks. Michaela hopes to progress into shark conservation and behaviour research on completing her undergraduate degree and make a career out of her passion for marine life. 

Morgan Rubanow

Morgan is originally from Long Island, New York and has recently completed her Masters in Conservation Science degree at the University of Queensland.  Although she is from the States, she considers Australia as her 'second home' and has a special place in her heart for the Great Barrier Reef and sharks.   Volunteering for Grey Nurse Shark Watch has provided her with an opportunity to combine her love for sharks with the skills she has learned from her Masters to make a difference for Australia's marine environment.  She is particularly keen to use her skills in photographic identification to help reveal information about Grey Nurse Shark ecology and to use her enthusiasm to promote Grey Nurse Shark education.  She hopes that organizations like Grey Nurse Shark Watch can change the fear that people have towards sharks to excitement and fascination that will lead to further protection for this species.


A little more about the need for our volunteers

Since the launch of Grey Nurse Shark Watch in 2011 interest and support for the program has appreciatively, grown and grown.

What that has meant is that in addition to the highly valued volunteer divers collecting and contributing their grey nurse shark photos and visual counts we also now really need help ‘behind the scenes’ to catch up and hopefully soon keep up. Keeping on track with the photo processing is important to keep our field volunteers, stakeholders and conservation managers updated with robust and current data as required and in a timely manner. 

Fortuitously, three suitable and keen ladies recently asked us about volunteer opportunities. All three have now received some training and are contributing their individual skills and passion to help out behind the scenes.

 In addition to processing photos, as opportunities arise volunteer project officers will be provided with many other developmental opportunities according the their skills, interests and desire to obtain experiences that will assist their future career prospects. For instance, they may assist with the development of annual reports, education, social media and website materials, funding applications and fund raising initiatives. In addition, we hope they can help inform our field volunteers and the broader community about grey nurse sharks and role of the GNS Watch program.

Overall, we hope that any time spent volunteering with GNS Watch will be rewarding and lead to their individual growth whether for future carrier prospects of personal fulfilment.