We are very pleased to announce that the recipients of the 2023, Save Our Seas Travel Grant Award are Mr. Adetola Adebowale, Ms. Naseeba Jamil Sidat, and Ms. Rihab Louhichi. Unfortunately, Ms. Lara Fola-Matthews and Dr. Issah Seidu, although selected for the award, were unable to the make the trip this year.

Adetola Adebowale

Adetola Adebowale is a Mastercard scholar who hails from a coastal community called Epe in Lagos state, Nigeria. He is an aquatic ecologist (with a keen interest in ecotoxicology) who aims to enhance marine health, conservation, and the sustainable use of marine resources. He has a BSc in Aquaculture and Fisheries Management and is currently finishing his masters in Biological Sciences at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. His research focuses on assessing heavy metals and organic compound bioaccumulation in bronze whaler sharks along the South African coastline. He is an active member of the European Aquaculture Society (EAS), Early career Marine Professionals (ECOP), Southern African Society of Aquatic Scientists, Aquaworld, and the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC). He enjoys science communication, and recently won the UCT 3 Minute Thesis (3MT) competition. He is interested in ecological risk and environmental impact assessments to estimate the impact of pollutant and climate change effects on freshwater and marine environments. He seeks to understand the sublethal effects to aquatic biota and how they adapt and respond to these multiple stressors. He aims to become a future leader in aquatic ecology, committed to ensuring safe and sustainable seafood, restoring marine biodiversity, and promoting food security, human livelihoods, and ecological well-being”.

Naseeba Jamil Sidat

Naseeba Jamil Sidat, was born in Maputo, and has a degree in Marine, Aquatic, and Coastal Biology from the Department of Biological Sciences at the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, Mozambique. In 2017, she joined the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and is now a marine program assistant. She is currently working part-time on her master’s degree in the Coastal Science and Policy (CSP) Program at the University of California Santa Cruz. Already in her second year, she is implementing her project in partnership with the WCS and the Oceanographic Institute of Mozambique to “Support fishing communities to safeguard their livelihoods and shark and ray populations in Zalala Beach. Naseeba is always keen to learn more and try to make a difference on this planet that is Bluer than anything else. As a younger marine scientist, she is passionate about the ocean and believes that participating in the 7 th South African Shark and Ray Symposium, will bring new visions and allow her to expand her networking with other students and experts working in the same subject. These will be a great experience at this stage of her career, allowing her to gather more ideas on how to better contribute to shark and ray conservation in Mozambique.

Rihab Louhichi

Rihab Louhichi was born in Tunisia in 1996, she is a young researcher at the Faculty of Science of Sfax. Given the risks to our seas and oceans, she has chosen a career, which enables her to protect our oceans and its marine life against prohibited fishing and other anthropogenic activities. Since 2019, she has been monitoring the landings of catches in local ports and also making on-board observations. In 2021/2022, she worked as an observer in the MedBycatch project. In that position, she interviewed fishermen and on-board observers in different ports to investigate methodologies to reduce the bycatch of vulnerable species. At the end of the project, she was selected as an ambassador for all observers included in the project and responsible for collecting data in the ports of the Gulf of Gabes region. This mission gave her the opportunity to attend workshops on a second project called “Sharing Experiences and Knowledge to Build Strong Relationships and maintain collaborations between Medbycatch observers and fishermen”, with ambassadors from other Mediterranean countries participating in the Medbycatch project. Today, as a PhD student in her 4th year, she is continuing her doctoral research in marine biology at the National Institute of Marine Sciences and Technologies (INSTM Sfax). She is also leading a scientific project, entitled “Elasmobranchs conservation in Tunisia: Fisheries and Experiences of mitigation measures”, which is generously funded by the Save Our Seas Foundation.

Lara Fola-Matthews

‘Lara Fola-Matthews is a Marine Biologist with an interest in elasmobranch biology and management. She is a research scientist at the Nigerian Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research and a PhD candidate at the University of Lagos, Nigeria. Her research interest seeks to understand the feeding ecology and strategy, reproductive biology, and growth pattern of the common smooth hound shark. She has also used DNA barcoding to identify the sharks in Southwest Nigeria and employed the use of Local Ecological Knowledge (LEK) to understand the trend in shark fisheries in past years in Nigeria. Lara is a member of the American Elasmobranch Society (AES) and Minorities in Shark Science (MISS). She is a Rising Tide Mentorship Program Fellow and a co-author of the MISS Diverse Voices in Shark Research Book. Lara is a steward for sustainable fishing practices and shark conservation with a passion to assist ongoing efforts to create a plan of action for shark fisheries in Nigeria.

Issah Seidu

Dr Seidu is the founder and team leader of AquaLife Conservancy, a Ghana-based not for profit NGO dedicated to the research and conservation of marine and freshwater biodiversity. He is currently championing the research and conservation of sharks and rays in Ghana. Dr. Seidu holds a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources Management from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). He also holds an MPhil Wildlife Management degree, and recently completed his PhD programme at KNUST. During his PhD programme, he collected the first comprehensive fisheries data on sharks and rays in Ghana. He also conducted a series of after-work meetings and conservation programs with fishers and local communities to garner support for the conservation of elasmobranchs in Ghana. Dr. Seidu is an active member of the IUCN SSC Shark Specialist Group. He is also a Zoological Society of London EDGE of Existence and Marine Conservation Action Fund fellow.