Meet the team !

The first fieldwork phase will be carried out for four weeks at a time. Dr Nigel Hussey and Dr Steven Kessel begin the first fieldwork week, and will be joined by the rest of the team later. Meet the rest of the team as they arrive on the field.

Cousteau Society Scientists


Nigel Hussey

Lead scientist for the shark and ray project

My initial research on sharks began in 2001 and was focused on mapping ‘Essential Nursery Habitat’ of lemon sharks in Bimini, Bahamas. I conducted my PhD on the movement, feeding and trophic ecology of the dusky (Carcharhinus obscurus) and scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini) sharks off southeast Africa based at the School of Ocean Sciences, Bangor University, Wales. I am currently working as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Windsor, Canada in conjunction with the Ocean Tracking Network deriving data on movement and trophic interactions of fish, including sharks to improve management and conservation action plans. I am involved in various shark research and management programmes around the world ranging from the ice lands of the high Arctic to the desert lands surrounding the Red Sea region and including species such as the Greenland shark, scalloped hammerhead shark and the Great white shark.

Steven Kessel

"My career in marine science began in 2002 when I took an undergraduate placement at the Bimini Biological Field Station, Bahamas where I conducted field research for my undergraduate dissertation on the abundance distribution and habitat association of juvenile lemon shark prey communities. I then began my PhD, based through Cardiff University, UK, in 2005 focused on lemon shark behavior and population dynamics in the Bahamas and U.S Atlantic seaboard. During this time, in 2007 Dr. Nigel Hussey and I participated in a Cousteau Society research cruise to the Red Sea Coast of Sudan. Our purpose on this trip was to conduct an assessment of Sudan’s shark populations, which saw the initiation of the Sudan Divers Aware of Sharks program. Additionally at this time, with Cousteau society, we set in to motion the process of obtaining research permits from the Government of Sudan. Following the completion of my PhD in 2009, I began a postdoctoral fellowship, in conjunction with Cardiff University and the Bimini Biological Field Station studying the seasonal activity and distribution of large coastal shark species on the U.S. eastern seaboard. In February 2012 I began my second postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Windsor focused as part of the Arctic component of the Ocean Tracking Network (OTN). Here I am studying the movements, migrations and trophic ecology of Arctic cod, sculpin and Greenland sharks. Following a five year long campaign, we finally received research permits from the Sudanese government, which will see the initiation of stage one of the Sudan Red Sea Shark and Ray Study in October 2012."

Rebecca Klaus

I am a tropical marine ecologist and my geographical area of specialism is in the Indian Ocean and adjacent seas (Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Arabian Gulf). My technical research background are in coral taxonomy, benthic ecology, reef health, and the application of remote sensing and GIS for mapping of benthic biotopes. For my MSc. project I mapped the lagoonal habitats and reefs around Mauritius using satellite imagery. For my PhD, I assessed the status of the reefs after the 1997/1998 coral bleaching event in the Indian Ocean and the variability in the impact around three case study island localities (Socotra, Inner Seychelles and Mauritius). Since completing my PhD, I have continued working as a freelance consultant within the western Indian Ocean and Arabian region on projects related to the planning and management of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM), and coastal and marine tourism. My first experience of working in Sudan was during the PERSGA (Regional Organisation for the Conservation of the Environment of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden) Marine Protected Areas-Strategic Action Programme (MPA-SAP) in 2001 / 2002. The PERSGA MPA-SAP resulted in Dungonab Bay and Mukkawar Island Marine National Park being legally gazetted by the Sudanese Government in 2004. Since then I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work in Sudan again in 2006 with African Parks Foundation and again in 2007 with the Cousteau survey.

Mohammed Younis

Special advisor in Sudan

Mohammed Younis studied Zoology and Wildlife Ecology and Management at the University of Dar Essalam, and then Environmental studies at the University of Khartoum. He then participated in different training on marine conservation and sustainable management. He held different positions in the Wildlife administration in Sudan as well as researcher positions. After he retired, Mohammed Younis continued to work as freelance consultant for different organizations such as PERSGA, African Parks Foundation, Mercy Corps and Cousteau Society for which he works as consultant advisor on the requirements for obtaining permissions, and to undertake discussions with the relevant ministries and authorities in Sudan, at both Federal and Red Sea State in order to obtain the relevant scientific permissions needed for the establishment of the long term monitoring and conservation program for shark and ray species in Sudan.

The Deep staff (The Deep)


Graham Hill

I studied Zoology at Dundee University and continued to study for several years on from my honours project looking at pentastomid parasites infecting rats, rattlesnakes and humans. I was the first in line to join the university diving club on the first day of fresher’s week and dived mainly in Scotland standing by the side of the road in horizontal sleet and snow trying to get into a frozen wetsuit but all good fun! I then studied at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh for an MSc distinction in Marine Resource Development and Protection and qualified as HSE Part IV Scientific diver shortly after. I started at The Deep in 2001 as Science Officer with main interests being veterinary care, elasmobranch physiology and in particular haematology.

Ben Jones

I’m a Senior Aquarist working for The Deep in Hull. I have worked here for 8 years now. Prior to this I completed a degree in Marine Biology at The University of Wales Bangor before heading off to Australia where I worked aboard a dive boat for a while near the Whitsunday Islands. I’ve been diving since I was 16. I like being warm and so Sudan will certainly not disappoint! Very much looking forward to this once in a lifetime opportunity.

Invited Scientists


Mark Priest

I have worked on a variety of research projects around the world with a general focus on tropical reef systems. However, my main research interests revolve around coral reef fish ecology and sustainable management of reef fishes. Most recently, I have been using genetic techniques to assess connectivity in reef fish populations across the Pacific. I am looking forward to assisting on the current project as we will be working in a location very few people get to visit and producing tangible outcomes relevant for the management of local marine resources.

Joseph diBattista

My research is directed towards understanding the origins of species-level biodiversity and how it is maintained. I am therefore interested in the integration of classical and molecular approaches to resolve patterns of genetic variation within and between marine populations (or species), identify historical and contemporary factors that influence separation of such populations (or species), incorporate phylogeographic findings into the design of marine protected areas, and track evolutionary responses in natural (or experimental) populations. Past research systems have included lemon sharks in the Bahamas (funded by NSF), coral reef fish in the greater Indo-Pacific with a particular focus on the Hawaiian archipelago (funded by NSF and NOAA), and a globally distributed herring complex (funded by AMNH). Our current project builds on these phylogeographic surveys of Indo-Pacific reef fish to investigate the process of speciation in the Red Sea and Arabian Sea. This research is funded by the National Geographic Society and a biodiversity grant awarded to Dr. Michael Berumen at the King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST), which includes collaboration with researchers from the California Academy of Sciences, James Cook University, and the University of Hawai’i.

Camrin Braun

I am an MSc student at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia. Previously, I worked at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) as a technician studying movements of large pelagic fishes in the Red Sea, South Pacific, and North Atlantic. My research combines various tracking and mapping technologies including satellite telemetry, light-based geolocation, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and other forms of spatial analysis to understand ecology of study species. At KAUST, I intend to focus my interest and experience in movement ecology on the large pelagic fish of the Red Sea.

The whole manta team (minus Rebecca). The team was helped by local fishermen willing to help to preserve their prestine environment. A special thank you to Isa whose local knowledge of manta rays really helped the team to reach their objectives.