My name is Maarten, I am a marine biologist, dive instructor, biology teacher and PhD-candidate at Curtin University in Perth. This blog describes the research, ideas and general random adventures I’m having while working on my PhD-project that investigates cryptobenthic fauna in Indonesia and Philippines.
While I currently live and study in Australia, my research focuses on species found in Southeast Asia. I come from Belgium, but have been traveling the world as a dive instructor and marine biology researcher for more than 8 years. From a very young age I have been fascinated by the ocean, and the creatures that live in it. During my dive travels I have developed a passion for the small, camouflaged, special or outright weird critters that can be found below the surface. I have been extremely lucky to have been given the opportunity to study some of these species for the next three years. 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 ghostpipefishes 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.
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, ghostpipefish, 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 attempts to describe 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.
For more Critter Research, check on Instagram and Twitter:Follow @DeBrauwerM