Laura Blamey, Research Scientist -Underwater Diving

This week on ‘An Interview with WiseOceans’ we spoke with Laura Blamey, a Research Scientist

Name: Laura Blamey

Role: Research Scientist

Company: Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)

Top Tip: Work hard, and be determined

Quick Fire Questions

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

For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with the sea and marine life. My family were avid rock and surf fishermen and so I spent many holidays playing in rock pools or fishing along the South African east coast. Other inspirations included local aquariums, field guides by prominent researchers and my biology teachers at school. Marine science is the only career I’ve ever wanted

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

I wasn’t a top student at high school (or at university), but I was passionate and determined. I found out what subjects I needed in order to enrol for a Bachelor of Science degree, and I stuck at it. At the end of the day, its been hard work, passion and a bit of luck too!

3. How did you obtain your current position? 

I took a chance and applied! I guess in the past I have taken every opportunity provided to me with both (grateful) hands and given my best – no matter how big or how small the job. I’m extremely motivated and I’ve tried to build up a reputation of being honest, hard-working and reliable. I’ve also been fortunate in having some really great mentors

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

It’s hard to pick just one thing because I really do love almost all aspects of my job. I love that I get to work with amazing people and I really enjoy being able to work on a variety of projects – it’s never boring! The inner nerd in me would also have to say that I really enjoy data analysis and writing

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

Yes – I’m part of a great team who give their best and strive to deliver first-class research that has an impact

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

You are capable of more than you think

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

During high school I thought all I needed was biology! I never thought I would need Maths or English (other than to get into a university) or public speaking skills. But, I was wrong! If I had a do-over, I would go back and major in maths and biology instead of just biology. And I guess I would have paid more attention to my English teacher!

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

The world needs you – be prepared to put in the hard miles at the beginning and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. And if it turns out it’s not for you – that’s ok too

9. What is your favourite marine creature and why?

I’d have to say echinoderms, specifically urchins. I love the spines, tube feet and pedicellaria. And for some species, their grazing abilities are incredible! 

A current favourite (it does change from time to time) is the flower urchin, Toxopneustes pileolus. This is because they are very pretty, yet simultaneously extremely dangerous!

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

Good moment – there are so many, but probably diving in kelp forests off Cape Town and night diving to count lobsters in the Seychelles. 

Bad moment – the first time I ever dived in the tropics and saw the scale of coral bleaching

You are capable of more than you think

Laura Blamey

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