An Interview with WiseOceans… Iru Zareer from MWSRP

Our friends at MWSRP have so much great advice to give and who can blame them for wanting to share their amazing experiences?  We certainly want to hear all about them!

Name: Irthisham (Iru) Zareer

Job Title: In Field Coordinator

Organisation: Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme (MWSRP)

  • What inspired you to pursue a career in marine conservation?

Growing up surrounded by the beautiful Maldivian waters, I was drawn more and more towards the marine environment with every dip, dive or snorkel. As I grew older, I found myself wanting to learn more about all its beauty and the life that thrives in, from the nudibranch to the whale shark, big or small it was all fascinating to me. However growing up in a congested place like Male’ with a lot of pollution, I also got to see the impact of humans on the reefs. And I realised that this was what I wanted to spend my life on. Being a better ambassador for these reefs so we don’t end up losing these precious ecosystems altogether.

  • What steps did you take/are you taking to achieve your career goals?

I’m currently working on my University application. I feel as if I would be able to contribute better, with the knowledge I would achieve at university.

  • How did you land your current job/position? 

I first started out with the Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme through an IUCN apprenticeship. After a 5 month apprenticeship, I got asked to join as staff!

  • Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?  

Definitely swimming with whale sharks! Knowing that we are contributing to the conservation of the species is very rewarding.

  • Are there aspects of your position which make you feel that you are really ‘making a difference’? 

Any community projects that we partake in. Specially the ones with younger kids, it’s incredible to see the sparks of excitement in these kids, as they learn to respect sharks and not fear them.

  • What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?  

That work in this field is even more rewarding than one would think. 

  • Are there any skills you never thought you would need but did?  

Patience. To have the patience to be able to interact with difficult people who don’t see the marine environment the same way as we do, has definitely been a skill to master. Also the skills to keep children engaged and entertained is one that I didn’t think I’d need but am still learning how to fine tune.

  • What advice would you give to budding marine conservationists?  

Things might not always look very positive all the time but things can and will change for the better, with time. The more positive changes may or may not be evident in our lifetime, but they are going to be worth all your work.

  • What is your favourite marine creature and why?  

Whale sharks. Biggest fish in the sea!  They are on top of a very long list though.

  • What is your most unforgettable moment in the sea?  


First time I had an encounter with two whale sharks together. Definitely unforgettable!


Thanks Iru!  Whale sharks are pretty high on our list of all-time favourite marine creatures too…  Best of luck with your university application.


To find out more about the Maldives Whale Shark Research programme and get some fantastic experience to help you on your journey to becoming a marine conservationist then have a look at their page in our Marine Research Expedition section.

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