Life under the sea

Ana Martins Sequeira

Postdoctoral fellow, UWA Oceans Institute

To some, being able to swim with whale sharks sounds like a dream come true. This is still the case for Ana M. M. Sequeira, despite her work allowing her to swim with these beautiful creatures more than 400 times.

The postdoctoral fellow, an ecological modeller, has been with the UWA Oceans Institute for almost three years, and is also affiliated with the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences (AIMS) and CSIRO. Ana works across various projects, all involving the development of models to assist our understanding of the marine environment with a strong focus on biodiversity conservation. One such project involves looking at tracking data for marine megafauna species, including whale sharks, to understand their movements and how and why they choose to go somewhere.

“I was always very interested in the ocean, and because I was so amazed, I wanted to know more about it. As I grew up, questions started coming up in my head and I knew it was my path.”

Ana Martins Sequeira

Ana has been in Australia for seven years, completing her PhD on whale sharks after moving from her home country of Portugal.

“I came to Australia because I was very interested in working with whale sharks. They also occur in the Azores [Portuguese islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean] but the population in Ningaloo is the most stable and well-known.”

Ana says a big impossible for her was simply thinking she might one day end up working with whale sharks on the other side of the world. Being from Portugal, realising this dream meant she first needed to gain funding to support her PhD, find a suitable supervisor, become proficient in English and, finally, move to the other side of the world alone.

“If you really want something, you first need to believe in yourself. You should acknowledge that it’s not going to be easy and that you may fall on the way, but if you keep picking yourself up, you will eventually get there.”

Ana Martins Sequeira

As a marine researcher, Ana says the UWA Oceans Institute is one of the best places to be in terms of support and having access to other researchers in different fields with whom she can collaborate

“UWA has had a very important role [in my life]. Being a first-time postdoctoral fellow, I now need the support to develop my research skills and to start my own research networks. The UWA Oceans Institute and the collaborative agreement I work under have been incredibly supportive and provided an extraordinary environment for me to develop and apply my skills.”

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