I’m a marine biologist, National Geographic Explorer, biology teacher and I currently work as a postdoctoral researcher at CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) in Australia. This blog describes the research, ideas and general random adventures I have while investigating coral reefs and cryptobenthic fauna around the world.

While Bobtail squid_caption I currently live in Australia, my past research mostly focused on marine life in Southeast Asia. I come from Belgium, but have been traveling the world as a dive instructor and marine biology researcher for more than 14 years. I have been fascinated by the ocean and the creatures that live in it from a very young age. During my dive travels I developed a passion for the small, camouflaged, special or outright weird critters that can be found below the surface. Hopefully I can share some of my passion and lots of the weirdness with you on this blog…

My research focuses on rare and camouflaged species such as frogfishes and ghost pipefishes that are often found on volcanic sand. They are not only amazing examples of how crazy evolution can get, but are also important for dive tourism and the aquarium trade.

Ornate Ghostpipefish

A pair of Ornate Ghost pipefish

A lot of current tropical marine biology research focuses on charismatic or large species such as sharks, turtles and dolphins. Many of the less known, small or camouflaged species are equally important, but are barely studied at all. Cryptic species such as frogfish, ghost pipefish, stonefish, etc. can be the reason for the development of dive tourism in otherwise poor regions, creating an important source of income for local communities. These species are mostly found on sandy bottoms away from coral reefs, which is why the type of diving where people look for these species is often dubbed “Muck-diving”.

The research I do investigates the abundance and distribution of these species and how they are affected by human impacts. I also look into the value of these species to local communities and their importance to the development of tourism. Finally, I am testing new survey methods to make future research into cryptobenthic species easier.

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14 thoughts on “About

  1. Pingback: Video Interview: The science behind the critters | Critter Research

      • Well I did it a bit in Puerto Rico. I just own a Olympus Tough TG-3 camera, but very happy with the results. From next year on, I’ll be in Australia, so I have more chances to actually go underwater and take photos.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Maarten, I saw your interesting article about seahorses and strobes in The Conversation yesterday, but couldn’t find the study in Nature Scientific Reports or anywhere else, and see that today the article has been taken down. I had been hoping to report on the story in Diver magazine (UK) – can you tell me what’s going on, please?


      • Hi Steve, happy for you to report on it for Diver Magazine and to answer any questions. What happened is that the Conversation jumped the gun and accidentally published the piece before the original research article was put online in Scientific Reports. They’ve taken it offline until Scientific Reports publishes the original work, which will hopefully be some time next week. Feel free to email me directly. Cheers, M


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