Interviews with Marine Scientists!

Bay Pipefish Project

Ramona de Graaf

Bay Pipefish
(Syngnathus leptorhynchus)


Ramona de Graaf is a Marine Biologist who is currently doing her graduate work at the University of British Columbia with Bay Pipefish. After working with Ramona in the field for two days, we sat down for an interview with her to find out more about her project and her thoughts on being a scientist.

Ramona is interested in determining the degree in which marine fishes migrate and the extent of their habitat and is currently trying to answer this question for a specific species, Bay Pipefish (Syngnathus griseolineatus). In order to get her data, Ramona monitors the populations from several sites that contain Pipefish habitats, eelgrass beds. Ramona, with the help of field assistants such as ourselves, catches the Pipefish using seining techniques (a type of fishing using seining nets) and then collects data and tags the fish. The data collected includes the fish’s length, colour, sex and DNA samples from a small clipping of the dorsal fin. With the DNA samples Ramona then compares the genetics of different populations to determine how closely they are related and from this will be able hypothesize whether or not Pipefish move between different populations (do pipefish from one area reproduce with fish from another area).

The Bay Pipefish

Males give ‘birth’ to live young

Most abundant fish in eelgrass

Close relative to the seahorse

Distributed from Alaska to Mexico


The Interview:

What education do you have?

Previously a paralegal, training to become a lawyer
Late 20s went back to school to study Biology and received an Honours degree in Science at Uvic
Was a whale researcher
Worked for various NGOs in Marine Conservation
Has lab experience and boating skills

What skills do you require for your work?

A lot of patience
Statistical analysis
Lab skills
Outdoor skill- field camping
People skills and communication skills
Boating and marine navigation

What is the best part of the job?

Seeing and interacting with the animals
The discovery, wonder, mystery of science
Being outdoors
Sharing her work with family – has had many family members work with her in the field

What is the worst part of the job?

Lack of funding
Competition between researchers

Do you have any advice for students?

Coop is a great way to get experience
Study hard but don’t forget to have fun
Go for it
You’re never too old
Get involved with Marine Conservation!

Surfperch caught by the seine


Interview conducted by Shani Danzig and Maria Meimaris,
interns at the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre

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