My principle interest is in understanding the biogeography of animal communities at deep-sea hydrothermal vents. That is to say, I’m interested in trying to understand why different parts of the worlds oceans harbour different hydrothermal vent communities – so-called biogeographic provinces. The tools of my trade are principally molecular genetics. Presently, I’m researching the connectivity of species between hydrothermal vents in the Southern Ocean, which can be conceived of as biomass islands surrounded by the biomass ‘deserts’ of the deep sea. I’m also interested in understanding how certain animals evolved into hydrothermal endemic species and I’m currently working on a molecular genetic phylogeny of the yeti crabs to this end.
Below are photographs of one of my study species. It’s a new species of yeti crab currently under formal description, which was recently discovered by our team at the East Scotia Ridge in the Southern Ocean. Owing to its hirsute chest, it has affectionately been dubbed, the ‘Hoff’ crab after the notoriously hairy-chested Baywatch actor.
RRS James Cook research Cruise 55 (Jan – Feb 2011)
Explored the Bransfield Strait, on the west side of the Antarctic peninsula for hydrothermal vents.
RRS James Cook research Cruise 42 (Jan – Feb 2010)
Explored the East Scotia Ridge in the Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean and retrieved, for the first time ever, hydrothermal vent animals from the only known vents in the Southern Ocean.
SERPENT Project, 2009
Flew out to oil drilling ships and rigs in the Norwegian sea and Faroe-Shetland channel and conducted deep-sea benthic surveys utilizing industry remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) as part of the SERPENT scheme (Scientific and Environmental Rov Partnership using Existing iNdustrial Technology).
Marine Mammal Observer 2005 – 2008
Worked as a Minerals Management Service (MMS) marine mammal observer on seismic survey vessels in the Gulf of Mexico, ensuring that seismic operations were halted in the presence of marine mammals. Totalled more than 1.5 years of at sea time.