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”.
My research attempts to describe the abundance distribution of these species and how they are affected by human impacts. I am also estimating the value of these species to local communities and their importance to the development of tourism.
One of the current running projects is a survey that investigates which species are most important to muck divers. Please have a look and take the survey by following this link: Critter popularity survey