We’re a nature-loving couple from Australia (Mads) and New Zealand (Simon). We’ve started this website because we’re both huge wildlife geeks. Simon is even a professional ocean obsessive, aka marine biologist.
Our idea of a fun time is to be playing outside. We’d like to encourage you to explore the world, or your part of it, and the animals that live there. To that end, we want this site to be helpful. It’s (very) new, but we’re both busy writing up lots of articles on how to have great wildlife encounters (with responsible ecotourism operators where it’s difficult to organize things yourself). We’ll also add our gear recommendations to keep you safe, comfortable, and stoked, and teach you how to get great photos and videos while you’re out having fun.
There’ll also be lots of general nerd humor about animals because, frankly, Simon can’t help himself.
We’re pretty excited about all this. Here’s a bit more information about us:
I’m a conservation designer from Brisbane, Australia. I grew up at the beach and around the water – mum even let me take a week off school so I could watch the pool get built in our backyard. Sometime later, I realized that most of my friends are marine biologists. I thought I’d better check out this whole “diving” business for myself.
Unsurprisingly, I got hooked quickly. Since then I’ve visited some world-famous diving areas, including Raja Ampat and Lembeh in Indonesia, as well as great sites like Byron Bay and North Stradbroke Island a bit closer to home in Australia. I’m also a keen freediver.
I’ve spent a lot of time looking at product design and human behavior during my professional career, and I love watching animals and figuring out what they’re up to as well. Lately, I’ve been getting into wildlife photography, which has proven to be a great excuse to hang out and see what’s going on.
I’m also really good at finding pygmy seahorses. I’m owning that. Super good.
Simon J Pierce, PhD
I grew up on a farm near New Plymouth, New Zealand, climbing trees and falling out of them. Sometimes, for a change, I explored rivers and fell into them. It was tough to get me inside. If I was, I’d probably be watching a nature documentary or reading a book about animals.
Inevitably (and fortunately) I became a biologist, being spectacularly unqualified to do anything else. I completed a BSc in Ecology in NZ, then moved over to Brisbane to study for an Honours then PhD degree on coastal sharks and rays. My labmate and buddy Andrea Marshall (who was studying manta rays for her own PhD) invited me to visit her work in Mozambique, and especially to have a look at the whale sharks over there.
Turns out whale sharks are pretty cool. Andrea and I eventually started a US-based marine research and conservation non-profit, the Marine Megafauna Foundation, where I lead the global whale shark program. I also do some collaborative work on manta rays, sea turtles, marlin and various other threatened marine species. I’m a (voluntary) regional Co-Chair for the IUCN Shark Specialist Group, a board member for the Sawfish Conservation Society, and Science Advisor to the Wildbook for Whale Sharks global photo-identification database. You can see my scientific publications here.
I’ve gotten reeeeeeally into marine wildlife photography over the past few years. My photographs and videos are used quite regularly in major international media outlets such as the BBC, National Geographic, Nature, Washington Post, Discovery, Animal Planet, New Scientist, and The Guardian. One of my photos was used by PADI for their Advanced scuba diving certification card, and another was chosen by Sir David Attenborough as one of his favorite’s from BBC’s Blue Planet II promotions. Stoked with that.
I’m always happy to see my images used to support marine conservation initiatives, and they’ve been used in campaigns by national and international organizations including the United Nations, Marine Megafauna Foundation, Client Earth, Sail Against Plastic, Galapagos National Park, the Shark Trust, Google Voyager, Galapagos Conservation Trust, the Australian and Sri Lankan governments, the Wildlife Trust of India, Tubbataha Management Office (Philippines), St Helena Research Institute, the International Coral Reef Initiative, and various WWF country offices.
Over the next year, I’ll be hosting public research and photography trips for the Marine Megafauna Foundation in various countries and working as a “Photographer in Residence” for G Adventures on some of their Arctic and Antarctic trips.
I also really enjoy writing articles here on the site, and as a marine biology columnist and occasional feature contributor for Oceanographic Magazine.