How did my interest in marine life/sharks start? That is probably the question that people ask me the most. I didn’t start all of this because I went to sea every day, saw sharks when I was super young and had learned diving before I started to walk. No, being born (1991) and raised in Venlo (The Netherlands) – nearly 200 km from the sea (pretty far for Dutch standards) – it is probably not very obvious how I became so fascinated with these animals and this field of work.
The answer however, is very simple. Modern technology brought me close to fish of all kinds and sizes: watching documentaries for days, reading virtually every website on sharks during the early ages of the worldwideweb, and studying books did the trick. That fascination for the vastness of an ocean and the animals that roam around underneath its surface has stayed with me, and made me devote my career to study the mezmerizing underwater world.
Already during my bachelor in Applied Biology (University of Applied Sciences HAS Den Bosch, The Netherlands) I tried to gain as much experience in scientific research as possible, including publishing my first scientific manuscript. As I wanted to learn more, I continued to do my masters in Marine Biology (Wageningen University, The Netherlands) and squeezed in as much time at sea as possible. After working a year as a consultant and freelance researcher, I am currently based at the University of Groningen (The Netherlands), where I am working on my PhD. to study the functional role of elasmobranchs (i.e. sharks and rays) within marine ecosystems, with a focus on large intertidal areas. Together with the Conservation Ecology Group we’re interested in how elasmobranchs link different food webs, their spatial habitat use and how these species affect overall ecosystem integrity and functioning.
At this stage I have been fortunate enough to have worked in The Netherlands, Bahamas, Mauritania, the Dutch Caribbean, Guinea Bissau and South Africa. These projects were focused on a large variety of elasmobranch species, including reef sharks, great hammerhead sharks, guitarfish, bull sharks, butterfly rays, a variety of stingrays and white sharks.
In addition, I am a member of the IUCN Shark Specialist Group and a member of the consortium working on mapping ‘Important Shark and Ray Areas’.
Please get in touch with me for any inquiries you might have. For a more detailed overview of my (scientific) experience, also have a look at my CV. To follow my work, keep an eye on this website, and follow me on social media!