Programme Committee

Michael Farquhar, Programme Committee Chairperson & Curator, Two Oceans Aquarium, Cape Town, South Africa

Michael’s passion for fishing and the outdoors led him to complete a Masters degree in Zoology and Entomology at Rhodes University in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. In 1994 he took up a research position in the Marine Biology Research Institute at the University of Cape Town, where he was fortunate to work for three years with Professor George Branch (one of the IAC keynote speakers) before joining the Two Oceans Aquarium as an Aquarist in 1997. He has worked in several positions at the Two Oceans including Aquarist, Senior Aquarist, Operations Manager, Assistant Curator and, since 2003, Curator. He is an enthusiastic fisherman and a very keen runner. He is married with a daughter aged 10 and a son aged 13. Michael is looking forward to welcoming you all to Cape Town in September.

Heather Koldewey, Global Section Head of Conservation Programmes, Zoological Society of London, United Kingdom

Heather joined the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) as a postdoctoral research associate and in 1997, became Curator of the Aquarium. Heather helped establish the European FAITAG in 1998, and in 2010 was appointed as the Aquarium Committee Chair for the World Association for Zoos and Aquariums. Since joining ZSL, Heather has been actively engaged in marine and freshwater conservation efforts, from Bangladesh to the Philippines. In 1996, Heather co-founded Project Seahorse (www.projectseahorse.org). She is currently ZSL’s Global Section Head of Conservation Programmes. One of her most rewarding moments was being involved in the designation of the world’s largest marine protected area in the Chagos Archipelago. She is actively involved in developing and implementing the research, conservation and management strategy for the region. She loves to kite-surf and have adventures with her family.

Stephane Henard, General Curator, Nausicaá, Centre National de la mer, Boulogne sur mer, France

Stephane studied aquaculture, water management and life support systems in Toulouse, France. Since 1982 he has worked at Nausicaá, first in charge of the aquariology programme and currently as General Curator. He is the Secretary of the UCA (the French Union of Aquarium Curators) and Webmaster for EUAC (European Union of Aquarium Curators). He is particularly interested in shark and coral husbandry and his hobbies include playing rock-and-roll guitar.

Rob Hicks, Displays Development Director, SEA LIFE Group, United Kingdom

From an early age Rob was fascinated with wildlife, aquatic wildlife in particular, and this passion resulted in a large collection of aquaria at home. Following his passion he studied for a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Biology and Zoology at Bangor University (UK), which ultimately led to a Master of Science. During this time he worked in various SEA LIFE centres as an aquarist during his vacations. Rob has spent the last twenty-plus years full time with the SEA LIFE group, culminating in his current position of Displays Development Director. He leads the biological aspect of the SEA LIFE group across its 45+ aquariums.

David Lai, Curator of Aquariums, Ocean Park, Hong Kong

David joined Ocean Park in Hong Kong in 1988 as Senior Aquarist after having graduated from the Tokyo University of Fishery, majoring in Fishery Science and Technology. Having grown up in a family of fishermen, he was keen to work in the marine field. Over the years he has worked in various curatorial positions, from pinnipeds and penguins to the aquarium’s overall collection. He has been heavily involved with different aquarium projects, including the first stand-alone sea jelly spectacular exhibit in 2006, Chinese Sturgeon Aquarium in 2008, Asian Amazing Animals with Goldfish Treasures in 2009, Amazon Rainforest, and the new 5.2 million litre Grand Aquarium in 2011.

Mike de Maine, Technical Manager, Two Oceans Aquarium, Cape Town, South Africa

After studying Oceanography and Marine Biology, Mike joined the Two Oceans Aquarium in 1999 as an Aquarist, and then moved to uShaka Marine World in Durban as Senior Specimens Collections Aquarist in 2002. In 2004 he was promoted to Curator of the Technical Department and immersed himself in solving many of the life support systems (LSS) issues which uShaka was experiencing at the time.

In 2008 Mike was employed by the Dubai Mall Aquarium to supervise the installation, commissioning and ongoing operation of LSS and building systems. He was then offered a position at the Two Oceans Aquarium to assist with the design and implementation of additional large exhibits. In partnership with the Two Oceans Aquarium, Mike offers LSS consultation and has carried out LSS audits for the Kuala Lumpur Aquarium (Malaysia) and the Istanbul Aquarium (Turkey).

Xianfeng Zhang, Professor of Marine Mammalogy, Institute of Hydrobiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan, China

Xianfeng Zhang has conducted river dolphin research and conservation since 1983 and has been consulting to aquariums in China since 1990. Currently, he is active in marine environmental research and the study and compilation of conservation and aquarium standards. He is one of the founding members of the IAF and a member of the IAC Steering Committee. He also sits on the Committee of the China Aquarium Association.

Judy Mann, CEO, South African Association for Marine Biological Research, Durban, South Africa

Judy’s interest in the amazing diversity of life in the ocean led her to a Masters Degree in Ichthyology. She started work with the South African Association for Marine Biological Research (SAAMBR) in Durban, South Africa in 1992. She has worked as a research scientist, Education Director and Sea World Director – all within SAAMBR. She is now the CEO of the Association. Judy is passionate about marine conservation through education and research.

uShaka Sea World’s primary role is to inspire and educate. It influences almost a million people each year – which is why every display and presentation is designed to introduce people to the magic of our oceans. Judy would like every guest who visits uShaka Sea World to return home inspired to take action to help our planet. She is currently registered for a PhD through the University of Queensland in Australia and will be investigating how people learn at uShaka Sea World so that it can reach them with its conservation messages.

Randall M Hamilton, Vice President of Husbandry, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey Bay, USA

Randy began his career with the Monterey Bay Aquarium in 1982 as a member of the start-up team. In his original role as a Fabricator, he built the first fibreglass tanks and created whale and dolphin models. As an Aquarist he collected animals and set up the initial exhibits. In 1992, he became Husbandry Coordinator for the New Wing project, overseeing the million-gallon Outer Bay Waters exhibit and the Jellies galleries. Randy has been Vice President of Husbandry since 2002. His team of approximately 60 staff members oversees a collection of nearly 42,000 mammals, birds, fish and invertebrates. He graduated from Humboldt State University with a Master of Science degree in Marine Biology. His hobbies include bicycling, travelling and reading.

Allan Marshall, Vice-President: Biological Operations, The Florida Aquarium, Tampa, USA

Allan is a spirited world-adventurer and aquatic animal expert, and The Florida Aquarium’s Vice President of Biological Operations. Receiving his BSc in Marine Biology from the University of Queensland (Brisbane, Australia) in 1988, Allan has worked at eight public aquariums around the world and has extensive experience in aquatic animal care and husbandry, from Cnidarians to marine mammals.

Allan has conducted, supported and managed research, conservation and educational programs in a variety of disciplines. His specialties include elasmobranchs, aquatic animal transportation, and coral reef husbandry and reproduction. Since 2006 he has been an active member of SECORE (SExual COral REproduction), an international consortium of coral reproduction scientists.

Dave Gibson, Managing Director, National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth, United Kingdom

Dave is currently the Managing Director of the National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth. His previous roles have included Director of Fota Wildlife Park, Ireland and Assistant Chief Executive of The Deep, Hull. He also holds a number of non-executive roles mainly related to the 3rd sector and Leisure and Tourism. He has been involved in public aquariums since 1994 when he started his career as an Aquarist. He holds a PhD in Fish Disease and a BSc in Zoology. Other than working too much, his interests include anything to do with the water, walking, cycling and DIY.

Russell Stevens, Head of Education, Two Oceans Aquarium, Cape Town, South Africa 

Russell’s experience as an educator is diverse, having taught at primary school, high school, teachers’ college and university. He has held various school leadership positions and serves on a range of education advisory committees. His qualifications include a Masters degree in Environmental Education. He is passionate about elevating Marine Education as a profession. His current focus is to develop a team of staff who, whilst striving for excellence in Marine Education, serve poorer communities around Cape Town. He enjoys water-related recreation, sports and mountain biking with friends and his children.


9 to 14 September 2012
Cape Town International Convention Centre
Cape Town, South Africa

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Did You Know

There are only 12 countries in the world that supply tap water that is fit to drink, and South Africa is one of the top three in terms of quality.