Helene Marsh is distinguished professor of environmental science and dean of graduate research studies at James Cook University in Australia. She’s also a world-renowned expert on dugongs—large, gray, aquatic mammals that are closely related to, and look somewhat like, manatees. Marsh used her Pew fellowship to focus on the conservation of Australian dugongs, which are the most significant traditional food for coastal indigenous peoples in tropical Australia but are threatened by development, shipping traffic, and pollution. Marsh worked with the Hope Vale aboriginal community near Cooktown in Queensland. The community has extensive traditional knowledge of the ecology and behavior of dugongs. Marsh helped the community document this knowledge and develop methods to continue conservation efforts. They worked with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection to develop a management plan that includes aboriginal knowledge. Marsh’s project has brought together government and indigenous community stakeholders. Several publications have resulted, including a research paper for the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology and detailed reports to Australian government agencies that were involved in the project. Marsh also helped develop a printed Turtle and Dugong Hunting Management Plan to help indigenous communities and natural resource management agencies to develop community-based management of dugongs.
To learn more about Marsh, visit her bio online: https://research.jcu.edu.au/portfolio/helene.marsh.