Having worked with MMF’s manta ray team since 2014 as a student researcher, Elitza (Ellie) Germanov tells us a bit more about herself…
What is your project about?
Forming the basis of my PhD, the Microplastics and Megafauna project looks at the implications of microplastic pollution on large plankton-feeders such as manta rays and whale sharks. I aim to provide motivation to improve waste management practices, particularly in and around key habitats of these species.
What is your education background?
I am a funny one…I have a BSc in Microbiology and Immunology and MSc in Cancer Immunology, worked as scuba diving instructor for six years and now am enrolled in a Marine Science PhD program at Murdoch University.
What drives your passion for the ocean and marine science?
It is insanely beautiful and full of life. In fact, although humans rarely scratch its surface, it is the reason why we have life on earth as we know it.
My interests in marine science are conservation oriented, with a focus on understanding anthropogenic threats on large marine species and their immediate habitats. My work up to date has focused on threats to manta rays in Indonesia where I have previously worked in marine-based ecotourism.
What is the best thing about your job?
The best thing about my job is helping people become inspired to find solutions to the problems that megafauna are currently facing. Swimming with manta rays is a close second 😉
What advice do you have for someone who wants to do what you’re doing…
Find the thing you are passionate about and just go and do it! The experience and opportunities won’t come any other way. Don’t worry about what you know or don’t know. You will learn what you need as you go along. There will be steps backwards, there will be disappointments, but knowing that you did your best is priceless.
What’s your most ‘out there’ moment at work?
My most ‘out there’ moment at work has to be when I see a manta ray “poop” and proceed to get excited about it. That must seem strange to some people, but we know so little about manta rays still and finding ‘droppings’ underwater is akin to finding information ‘gold’.
When you’re not working you are…
When I am not working, I am most likely scuba diving, learning to surf, practising yoga or eating cheese or chocolate.