Jay Dawsey CIMI Assistant Program Director - An Interview with WiseOceans

This week on ‘An Interview with WiseOceans’ we spoke with Jay Dawsey, Assistant Program Director at CIMI/Guided Discoveries 

Name: Jay Dawsey

Role: Assistant Program Director

Company:  CIMI/Guided Discoveries

Quick Fire Questions

1. What inspired you to pursue a career in marine conservation? 

My interests in earth science, water recreation, and cartilaginous fish helped lead me to pursue a career in marine conservation

2. What steps did you take or are you currently taking to achieve your career goals?

Bachelor of Science from Coastal Carolina University (2016). Worked as a divemaster in Honduran Bay Islands (2017). Marine Science Instructor at CIMI (2017 – 2019). Master of Professional Science from University of Miami (2020). Gear Manager for Miami Shark Lab (2019 – 2020). Assistant Program Director of CIMI (2020 – Present) 

3. How did you obtain your current position? 

After working for CIMI from 2017-2019 I left to work towards my Master’s in Marine Conservation. After graduating in 2020, I was invited back to re-establish the location as the Assistant Program Director after it had been shut down by COVID-19

4. Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?  

Teaching young students about the importance of marine conservation with varying activities. From hands-on lab exercise to lectures, it is challenging, but also, fun! Also, seeing the smile on a person who faced their fears and entered the water! As instructors, we are comfortable in the water, however some visitors have never swum before let alone put on a wetsuit and snorkel gear.

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

Introducing students who have spent most of their lives in concrete cities to nature can be extremely rewarding. This helps them to make connections to their daily lives help drive conservation efforts

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

Work ethic and networking abilities are everything in this field. Learn how to talk to everyone, build connections, you never know where one might take you

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

One of the most valuable skills I never thought I would use is writing code. Code can be used to create scientific figures and diagrams. Computers are an extremely powerful tool and I had no idea how to fully use them until I became a scientist. Knowledge and use of power tools, as well as general handy work/building, are also extremely valuable in this field. Marine conservationists do not always have the biggest cheque books; if you can’t buy it, build it yourself

8. What advice would you give to budding marine conservationists?  

Get involved anywhere and everywhere you can. Volunteer, network and converse with other ocean enthusiasts. After all, one day they may be the connection you need to achieve your dream

9. What is your favourite marine creature and why?

My favourite marine creature is the Great Hammerhead Shark. They swim on their side using their dorsal and pectoral fins to provide more lift in the water column. It’s a shark who has a fairly good understand of physics

10. What is your most unforgettable moment in the sea?

Being able to travel to a remote town on the Southern tip of South Africa to live for three months assisting with benthic shark research will always be one of the pinnacles of my life. Our team was assessing the efficacy of the coverage a MPA provided for heavily fished shark species in the area. While traveling to deploy acoustic tags we would see small sharks, very large sharks, dolphins, penguins, and Mola mola. Everyday brought new experiences. Whether it was catching rare fish species or being stung by mass colonies of blue bottle jellies. It was always interesting! 

Volunteer, network, converse with other ocean enthusiasts because one day they may be the connection you need to achieve your dream

Jay Dawsey

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