Marine Biologist Associate, Project Manta Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia
Master of Science
She has long been passionate about marine wildlife, says Ticiana Fettermann who completed a Master of Science at AUT and now works as a marine biologist.
“I’ve studied marine wildlife since 2005, including sea turtles, whales and dolphins and elasmobranchs. I’ve worked with research teams from Brazil, New Zealand, the Cook Islands and Australia, aiming to protect the ocean and the species that live in this environment.”
Since completing her studies at the end of 2018, Ticiana has worked on a number of marine conservation projects, including spending several months in the Cook Islands last year studying whales and sea turtles.
Since March 2020, she has been involved in Project Manta Ningaloo Reef, a multidisciplinary research collaboration focusing on manta ray populations in Australian waters and she is currently working as marine biologist adventure ecotourism guide. Ticiana is also looking to associate with a local cetacean project in Western Australia.
A novel approach to conservation studies
With an interest in geographic information systems and conservation, Ticiana came to AUT to study dolphin behaviour using innovative drone technology, under the supervision of Associate Professor Barbara Bollard from AUT’s School of Science.
“My main research interest was the behaviour interactions of bottlenose dolphins, an endangered species in New Zealand. I investigated the use of small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology to safely collect behavioural data on these dolphins without harming them. My aim was to help develop best practices and guidelines for the use of drones in studies on marine mammals.
“While doing my research I was also fortunate to film Bryde’s whales feeding. This footage was a world-first and attracted attention from media all over the world.”
Ticiana says she hopes her research will help improve our understanding of the dynamics and threats for New Zealand marine mammals, and help shape guidelines to fly safely and avoid harassing the animals.
Modern and supportive
She initially came to AUT based on a friend’s recommendation, Ticiana says.
“A friend recommended AUT and as soon I saw what she was talking about, I knew it was the place to be. AUT is a modern university with the latest technology and amazing student support.”
AUT felt like family, Ticiana says.
“Everyone was friendly and helpful. AUT also has great support services for students, especially when English is not your first language and you need additional support. AUT understands this and does everything it can to help students.”