Meet the Crew - Lu
Where are you originally from?
Born and raised in (East) Germany, I grew up far away from the ocean but have always been a water enthusiast.
What is your previous experience (uni/research/other relevant jobs etc.)?
I obtained my Divemaster qualification in Australia in 2014. Ever since I have worked with a variety of animals such as whale sharks, great white sharks, manta rays, sea lions and humpback whales. I have also participated in a sea turtle nesting program where I monitored nests of turtles on the beaches. Most recently I completed a Marine Mammal Rescue course with Project Jonah.
How long have you been working for Auckland Whale & Dolphin Safari?
I started working here in April 2018, after arriving in New Zealand in February.
Lu (on the left) explaining phytoplankton and our secchi disk to passengers
What's the best thing about working in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park?
I love working with a bunch of fellow ocean lovers and conservationists in an ever-changing office! Not only is the Hauraki Gulf full of amazing marine life and beautiful scenery but we also get to meet like-minded people from all over the world on a daily basis. I love sharing my passion for the ocean with our passengers and also hearing their stories.
In addition, I love contributing to the research being done out here, to try and protect the animals that frequent our waters.
It's easy for our jobs to become our world, after all, it is our passion but what do you like to do in your spare time?
I am very passionate about wildlife and photography, so on a clear and calm day, you will probably find me back on the boat, or in the water – swimming, snorkelling, or scuba diving. Generally, I am an outdoor person, and try to get out of the city and into the wilderness whenever I can. I love hiking and rock climbing, camping, beach walks, caving etc.... So much to explore around here!
Also, I am a pretty keen cook and baker so I spend a fair bit of time in the kitchen, trying out recipes, brewing kombucha etc.
What's your favourite animal in the whole wide world?
That's a tough one... I get pretty excited about pretty much any animal I have in front of me. I love dogs for their ever so happy and excited characters – and their loyal friendship.
In the water, it would have to be the humpback whale, for its sheer appearance and the wisdom and intelligence you can see in their eyes.
Humpback whale breaching in the Hauraki Gulf
If there is one question you could have answered about the oceans right this instant, what would it be?
I'd be very curious to see what animals live at thousands of meters of depths and how they adapt. There is still so much we don't know – and probably never will!
If there's one place in the world you could visit (money no object), where would it be and why?
Galapagos is definitely high up there. Diving with schooling hammerhead sharks has been a dream of mine ever since my first shark encounters.
Any particular stand out memories or highlights during your time so far at AWADS?
Seeing Pygmy Blue Whales, feeding Bryde's whales, any bottlenose dolphin encounter and an orca popping up a metre in front of me at the back of the boat. Awesome!
If you could give your passengers one piece of advice, what would it be?
Listen - There is so much you can learn out here!
Look - Away from your mobiles and out on the water! Some of the best moments only last seconds.
Talk – to your crew and other passengers. We are all in the same boat. Literally.