Since starting his PhD, Oliver has been exploring the biology of the New Zealand pea crab and how it interacts with its host, the green-lipped mussel. He has a particular interest in how pea crabs affect mussel farming in New Zealand. In the course of his study, he has shown for the first time that pea crab infestation can affect the profitability of mussel farming.
In New Zealand, there’s such a rich biodiversity. There’s so much about the oceans that’s undiscovered…[it] really is one of the last frontiers on earth.
Find out more about the how Oliver went about looking for answer to the question, what impact do damage the green-lipped mussels have on mussel farming in New Zealand in this article Testing how pea crabs affect mussel farming.
Oliver loves the variety of working in marine science. No two days are the same – he enjoys going out to dive for mussels one day, then being back at his desk writing the next. He also likes the fact that marine science encompasses so many other disciplines, from physics to biology and maths.
Oliver particularly enjoys doing marine science in New Zealand because of this country’s achievements in marine conservation. As he puts it, “New Zealand is about a decade ahead of the rest of the world.” He says that other countries look to us for guidance in the creation of marine reserves. For Oliver, it’s particularly special to be working at the Leigh Marine Laboratory, which is adjacent to the country’s first marine reserve, the Cape Rodney-Ōkakari Point Reserve (commonly known as the Goat Island Marine Reserve).
Although he works in marine science now, Oliver says he’s “really a chemist”. He did two science degrees, a BSc and an MSc, in his native Canada before moving to New Zealand.
Oliver came to New Zealand to find work, but he quickly found himself thinking about doing further study. When he heard about New Zealand pea crabs and their lives within green-lipped mussels, he was hooked. He decided he wanted to do a PhD that focused on the relationship between the two animals. Oliver got in touch with Professor Andrew Jeffs, an aquaculture expert and researcher at Leigh Marine Laboratory. He explained his plan, and Andrew agreed to take him on as a PhD student.
As this resource was being developed, Oliver was in the process of completing his PhD and planning a big career move. He’s leaving the lab and going into the classroom as a secondary school science teacher. Oliver loves talking about science and getting people enthused about it, so he’s looking forward to sharing his passion with New Zealand secondary students.
Oliver says he is addicted to volunteer firefighting. He’s a member of the fire brigade at Matakana, near Leigh. With a call-out nearly every 3 days, it’s the busiest rural brigade in the country. He and his team have competed at the World Firefighters Games, and every year, they take part in the Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge to raise money for charity (1,103 stairs in 30 kg of firefighting kit!)
When he’s not firefighting or in the lab, Oliver likes riding his motorbike. He’s also a bit of a mechanic and enjoys fishing, diving and public speaking.
Learn more about the Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge, which raises money for Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand.
This article is based on information current in 2013.