Fiona Merida

Marine biologist Fiona Merida is passionate about the Great Barrier Reef — for more than 15 years she’s worked in reef education and marine management. And she loves every minute of it. Fiona grew up in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. She moved to Townsville 13 years ago to study marine biology and, ultimately, fulfil a life-long dream to work on the Great Barrier Reef. Coming from a large temperate city, she loves Townsville’s relaxed tropical lifestyle and being in the hub of coral reef science. Often told she has the best job in the world, Fiona never takes this for granted. Day-to-day Fiona works at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the Australian Government agency responsible for managing and protecting one of the world’s most iconic natural areas. There she trains a passionate network of volunteers to monitor the Great Barrier Reef and the species that call it home. She works with interesting and dedicated people from all walks of life. Her talk — ‘The Great Barrier Reef – been there done that?’ — tells her personal story of exploration from the suburbs of Melbourne all the way north to the Great Barrier Reef. It’s a story that spans 1984 to 2014, from the pre-internet age to today. In our fast-paced and technologically-driven times, Fiona believes it’s important to get back to nature's beauty and take the time to truly experience it, leaving material expectations at home. Her advice: we should focus on using technology to share nature, rather letting it get in the way of our natural experiences and natural curiosity.