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Liam van Walsum

  • Marine Biologist
  • Marine Mammals Observer
  • Passive Acoustic Monitor
  • Data analyst
  • Sailor

About me

I grew up next to some of the world’s best beaches, reefs and mangrove forests in the world, and regularly traveled up and down the Australia’s east coast to dive, sail and swim from my home in Sydney. Despite this wild and rich wildlife at my door, something about the endless expansive nothingness of the open ocean fascinated me. I loved learning about the open ocean and the depth below it, and this led to a love of weird and unusual organisms that have developed rather unique methods of surviving in such a unique environment. Organisms such as dragon fish bioluminescence, siphonophore colonialism, tripod fish energy efficiency, hagfish slime, big fin squid arms, larvacean houses, flying fish escapes, scaly foot snail armour, angler fish reproduction, foraminifera carbon compensation, sea cucumber defence, parasitic crustacean mouthparts, and of course, cetaceans, some of the weirdest organisms in the oceans. 

Cetaceans take unique to the extreme, with beaked whales diving over 3000m on one breathe with no severe recompression induced health risks, bottlenose dolphins who force us to question definitions of ethics, morality and intelligence, sperm whales that can produce sounds with such force they can be heard on the other side of the planet, and Orca’s that have developed regional cultures based on food sources. I have studied cetacean ecology and behaviour throughout various surveys, biology through various stranding events, and vocalisation through instrumentation both live on survey and via recordings during post analysis. To do this work I needed to be proficient in using various survey methodologies, equipment, sailing offshore and understand physical properties and interactions of the ocean.