What are you studying, and what is it like?
I’m studying a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology. The course goes for 3 years full-time, and is based around all different aspects of skills, practical work, lab work, and knowledge. Some examples of topics are baseline topics such as chemistry, oceanic and climate sciences, genetics, microbiology, aquaculture, marine and freshwater biology, animal diversity, animal behaviour, conservation biology and restoration ecology, evolution, plant and algal diversity, and the list goes on!
You do need a background of knowledge definitely in baseline biology, chemistry and physics, but if you just keep up to date with work, and concentrate you can learn a lot even if you haven’t got a strong science background.
What can one expect in the day-to-day of a marine biologist?
That’s a very very broad question! Being a marine biologist can mean anything from working counting microscopic organisms in a laboratory, to collecting samples out in the field, or recording behaviours of wild animals, or tagging sharks!
It’s endless really, and it totally depends on what you want to do , and the path you choose in your given field.
What are some of your greatest surreal and ‘pinch-myself’ moments you’ve experienced so far?
Definitely experiencing the songs Humpbacks sing whilst free diving in Tonga. This trip was for freediving and also to gain experience first hand of the whales behaviour from in the water. It was absolutely incredible and I couldn’t describe it in words if I tried. Just amazing.
Is there any advice you can give?
Just helping out where you can- volunteering, attending events, protests and charity fundraisers for great causes and organisations you believe in, that is how you become directly involved. You have to be willing to put in time of your own, and learn to reap rewards that aren’t always monetary. Over the last few years I’ve earnt very little, but gained a life long experiences, friendships, contacts and learnt so much that I will keep forever.
What traits should someone possess to be successful in this type of career?
You need to be focused, and also patient. You cannot expect to get to do incredible things if you aren’t willing to work hard, and put yourself in these situations. The best experiences I have had are from volunteering and meeting people who then saw potential in what I am doing and then the opportunities come from there.
Where is the latest destination Marine Biology has taken you?
The last destination I went to purely for Marine Biology was Exmouth in WA.
This was incredible as well, I was working as a whale shark spotter or guide, gaining experience with the Whale Sharks and that whole industry. I learnt a lot about Ningaloo Reef, and all its inhabitants, not to mention regularly freediving with the whale sharks, other sharks, dugongs, manta rays and many other incredible creatures. I learnt a lot from people in the industry about the Humpbacks migrating up there each year and the ecology of the area.
You’ve mentioned previously that one of the biggest risks you’ve taken towards following your career is leaving your part-time job and regular income. How has this helped you in chasing after your dream?
Definitely, it is somewhat scary not having a known and regular income. But also instead of working a job that is supplying me nothing but money part time, it wastes precious time that I could be volunteering somewhere that is relevant to my career, that is going to help me in the future. I have gained a lot of great contacts and life lessons in taking these risks and taking opportunities that a lot of people would back down from. I hope to continue what I’m doing, grow my knowledge and keep travelling and learning from all these people, I think if you work hard enough at your dreams, they have to come true one day.
How did animal welfare and marine conservation has come to be such a huge part of your life?
I have worked really hard, at a lot of different aspects and am only now just starting to really focus on the exact path I want. When you put it like that it does sound like a lot! I have grown up around the ocean, have surfed from a really young age, both for fun and competitively, and have always had such a love and compassion for all animals.
Having an interest in Marine Biology came pretty naturally to me, and the more time I spent in and around the ocean, my passion for it grew, which in turn fuelled my fire to conserve the species under threat and be a part of conservation projects, and organisations.
I started at a local organisation called AMWRRO to begin with, which stands for Australian Marine Wildlife and Research Rescue Organisation, where I am directly involved in the direct rescue, rehabilitation, and release of injured marine wildlife. This was such a rewarding experience that it made my passion for conservation even stronger, and helping marine wildlife. We mostly deal with sea lions, seals, sea birds, turtles, and many other animals that are in need.
As you may know there are many aspects to marine biology, my passion definitely lies in animal behaviour, and ecology. My two main interests are cetaceans, and sharks, all marine life fascinates me but those two categories are my favourites if I had to pick.
What does the future hold for Brinkley- in an ideal world, where are you in five years time?
I couldn’t honestly tell you what the future may hold. My plans include helping to promote important conservation projects worldwide, be directly involved and utilise my knowledge and experience in a way that will benefit our oceans for futures to come. I want to raise awareness on a worldwide scale to the new generations that we can conserve what we have and our environment can have a bright future.
I would love to launch my own conservation organisation one day, and build a strong basis for many projects that are important in the years to come. I want to surf and freedive all over the world, and observe the incredible animals of this planet in their natural habitats, sharing it with the world, so everyone can appreciate and conserve it as well.