This week on ‘An Interview with WiseOceans’ we spoke with Martha O’Keefe

Name: Martha O’Keefe

Role: Academy Coordinator

Company: WiseOceans

Top Tip: Be kind and work hard!

Quick Fire Questions

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

Having grown up by the sea it has always been a huge part of my life and something I had a deep love for. During my undergraduate degree I was lucky enough to learn to scuba dive in Borneo as part of a field course, it was my time spent underwater here that sparked my desire to pursue marine biology as a career.

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

After taking out a few years to teach after my undergraduate degree I went back to university to do a master’s in Marine Vertebrate Ecology and Conservation. I have also tried to gain skills outside of academics, such as my speed boat licence, BDLMR and Marine Mammal Observer training and scuba qualifications to add to my CV.

3. How did you obtain your current position? 

I applied to the job advertisement; I had been signed up to the WiseOceans Careers job board since graduating.

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

Working with young people, there really isn’t a dull moment when you teach children. Everyday my students come with facts to tell me, jokes to tell, or drawing and toys to show the class…sometimes it’s hard to finish our lessons on time when they have so much to say!

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

Marine conservation must be rooted in engaging and inspiring future generations to ‘care’, working for WiseOceans Academy makes me feel like I am making a difference by teaching young people why we should all love and protect our oceans.

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

Marine conservation is never a black and white issue, you must understand and empathise with others even if their opinions and background is different to yours. The only way change is going to work out long term is if we take everyone involved into account.

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

Sci-comm, having the skills to communicate science to a range of different audiences is very important to whatever area of marine conservation you end up in.

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

The marine conservation world often feels surprisingly small, be kind and work hard as you don’t know which connections you make will lead to great opportunities!

9. What is your favourite marine creature and why?

Turtles! I just think they are so cute and funny. They are so elegant in the sea, but the opposite on the land.

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

Swimming with my favourite turtle Hope in Northern Cyprus. Hope is famous on the nesting beaches where I was working, she is missing her front right flipper but has still managed nest successfully since 2013. Snorkelling alongside her in the shallows one day felt like a very special experience, knowing she had made it to nesting age against all odds.  

“Having the skills to communicate science to a range of different audiences is very important to whatever area of marine conservation you end up in.”

Martha O’Keefe

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