My passion for the marine life brought me from Italy to South Africa. An encounter with great white sharks during a didactical expedition in 2007 (www.aquariummondomarino.com) made me fall in love with these magnificent animals. The lucky encounter with Michael Rutzen (www.sharkdivingunlimited.com) allowed me to work on Shark Diving Unlimited’ s cage diving boat for 4 months in 2009 and then non-stop since the beginning of 2010.
With Mike Rutzen and in cooperation with Oceans and Coasts of South Africa, I started collecting daily photos of white shark’s dorsal fins to construct a database of the great white sharks in the area of Gansbaai.
My PhD project aim is to identify individual great white sharks using a combined morphological and genetic approach. This includes a population genetic study of sharks of sharks in South Africa. White sharks are listed for protection under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN, Category VU A1cd+2cd) and are recognized as particularly vulnerable to rapid stock declines. The lack of basic information is arguably the biggest obstacle to plan an effective protection. Understanding the population dynamics can thus play a critical part in developing conservation strategies for these animals.
PhD title: "Evolutionary behavioural genetics and population structure of the Great White Shark, Charcharodon charcharias L."
Supervisor: Prof. Conrad Matthee
Co-supervisor: Dr Sophie von der Heyden