Courtney Anne Rayes
I grew up in Auckland, New Zealand. The marine environment made a significant impact on my life from a young age. Every family holiday was spent on the Coromandel peninsula, New Zealand, making the most of the water—biscuiting, skiing, fishing, snorkelling, kayaking, and swimming. Following my completion of college in Auckland, I moved out of home in 2009 to pursue my passion for the marine environment in Tauranga. Here I completed a Diploma of marine studies at the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, which included an extensive practical component and theoretical papers on marine, terrestrial, and freshwater environments. Within two years, I became a qualified PADI open water instructor and gained invaluable insight into the underwater world. I spent my university holidays working at Kelly Tarlton’s aquarium and on the Outer Gulf Charter boat, which visited Little Barrier, Great Barrier, Mokohinaus, and Hen and Chick Islands in Auckland. I thoroughly enjoyed giving people the opportunity to be part of the underwater environment and tried to instil the idea of conservation wherever possible. In 2011, I returned to Tauranga to complete my Bachelors in Applied Science. This year focused largely around the terrestrial environment but lead to my awareness of the importance of connectivity between land, rivers, and the sea and the anthropogenic impacts to the environment. In 2012, I moved to Hamilton to undertake my masters in biological science at the University of Waikato. The first year included numerous papers focusing on freshwater and marine ecology, molecular and statistical analyses, and ecological restoration. I have recently submitted my Master’s thesis, detailed as an interdisciplinary study of marine wood borers’ history and genetic diversity in New Zealand. I have encountered several challenges along the way, but the entire research process has been a great learning experience and continued to fuel my passion for the marine environment.
Courtney's final video may be viewed here.