Animal ecology medallist seals career deal - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Animal ecology medallist seals career deal

15 Nov 2021

Completing an Animal Ecology degree with a near-perfect grade point average has helped USC graduate Katharine Needham dive into a new role as assistant marine mammal trainer at SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast Aquarium.

Katharine, 25, of Buderim, was working at the Mooloolaba attraction as a marine science educator and photographer while she studied at USC Sunshine Coast.

“I was offered the new position soon after finishing my course work, and I have been welcomed by a wonderfully supportive team,” she said.

“Not only am I enjoying a challenging and rewarding role, I also get to work alongside the resident rescue fur seals, sea lions and little blue penguins that we care for at the aquarium.

“Getting to know the animals has been just as fun as getting to know the staff.

“I have a range of responsibilities where I can apply knowledge from my degree in practical ways, such as animal behavioural ecology and chemical testing of water quality in a laboratory setting.”

Katharine lived, studied and worked as an au pair in Madrid, Spain, for a year after graduating from Mountain Creek State High School.

“I enrolled at USC to channel my passion for science and the environment, so I could make greater contributions to the management and conservation of our natural landscapes,” she said.

“Growing up on the Sunshine Coast helped me develop a strong appreciation for our natural world and the efforts we should take to preserve it. And these values were reinforced by my choice of degree.

“On fieldwork excursions to Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island) and K’gari (Fraser Island), I met a group of like-minded peers to study alongside and share these wonderful experiences.

“Some became best friends, encouraging me to achieve my academic goals. The University Medal for my final GPA of 6.88 out of 7 could not have been possible without their support.”

Katharine is pursuing a SEA LIFE opportunity to study an online course in aquarium knowledge and skills while working in the new role.

“I also deliver educational talks on animal exhibits, so luckily I got some practice during uni with my presentations for assessment.”

Animal Ecology graduate Katharine Needham working at SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast. Picture: SEA LIFE

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