Dalal Al-Abdulrazzak – Ph.D. Student

DalalBioPic2 Dalal has always had an affinity for the ocean. Born and raised in Kuwait, she spent her youth exploring the coral reefs, mudflats and sea grass beds of the Persian Gulf. In 1991 she witnessed first hand the devastating effects of war on the local environment and vowed to do everything she could to restore it.

After graduating with BA in Environmental Studies from Middlebury College, VT, Dalal received a Watson Fellowship to travel to Panama, the Bahamas, New Zealand, Fiji, Palau, the Seychelles and South Africa to research the extent to which cultural context influences elasmobranch conservation efforts. Armed with nothing but a 5kg backpack and 20kg of SCUBA gear, she spent a year backpacking solo, logging over 200+ dives, and coming face to face with bull sharks, tiger sharks, great whites, and giant mantas. During this time, she also slept on 66 different beds, ate 9 jars of peanut butter and took 5, 538 photos.

She briefly returned to the “real world,” working as a research assistant to Dr. Jeremy Jackson at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where she investigated the environmental and economic effects of the “rats and cockroaches” of the ocean, (i.e. the invasive species that will become permanent components of ecosystems).

Dalal comes to the Sea Around Us to work under the supervision of Dr. Daniel Pauly. Her research interests lie in the historical marine ecology of the Persian Gulf. Through a variety of historical documents she hopes to assess and quantify changes in the distribution and abundance of marine species in the Gulf, in order to establish more accurate baselines from which to measure changes.  Her main goal is to understand the relationship between social history and changing marine environments in hopes of more successfully managing marine resources.

William Cheung – Associated Faculty

williamWilliam’s research interests focus on assessing the impacts of climate change, fisheries and other human activities on marine biodiversity and ecosystem services, modeling marine ecosystem, assessing extinction vulnerability, developing conservation risk indicators, and bio-economic evaluations.

He completed his Ph.D. in Resource Management and Environmental Studies at the Fisheries Centre, the University of British Columbia (UBC). Subsequently, he worked as a post-doctoral fellow with the Sea Around Us Project. He is currently a lecturer in marine ecosystem services at the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom, but maintains active collaborations with the Sea Around Us. William works on various interdisciplinary research projects that range from global-scale analysis to regional studies in China, Australia and Canada. Examples of his recent research include projecting global impacts of climate change on marine biodiversity and fisheries potential, evaluating socio-economic impacts of fisheries management policies in Hong Kong, modeling the South China Sea ecosystem, and developing a fuzzy logic expert system to reconstruct historical abundance of exploited fish populations in British Columbia, Canada. He has been serving as a member of the IUCN Species Specialist Group for Groupers and Wrasses since 2005.

Selected Publications

Cheung, W.W.L., Lam, V., Sarmiento, J., Kearney, K., Watson, R., Zeller, D. and Pauly, D. (2009) Large-scale redistribution of maximum fisheries catch potential in the global ocean under climate change. Global Change Biology doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2009.01995.x.

Cheung, W.W.L., Lam, V.W.Y., Sarmiento, J.L., Kearney, K., Watson, R. and Pauly, D. (2009) Projecting global marine biodiversity impacts under climate change scenarios. Fish and Fisheries: 10: 235-251

Cheung, W.W.L., Close, C., Lam, V.W.Y., Watson, R. and Pauly, D. (2008). Application of macroecological theory to predict effects of climate change on global fisheries potential. Marine Ecology Progress Series 365: 187-197.

Cheung, W.W.L. and Sumaila, U.R. (2008). Trade-offs between conservation and socio-economic objectives in managing a tropical marine ecosystem. Ecological Economics 66: 193-210.

Cheung, W.W.L. and Pitcher, T.J. (2008). Evaluating the status of exploited taxa in the northern South China Sea using intrinsic vulnerability and spatially explicit catch-per-unit-effort data. Fisheries Research 92: 28-40.

Cheung W.W.L., Watson, R., Morato, T., Pitcher, T.J. and Pauly, D. (2007). Intrinsic vulnerability in the global fish catch. Marine Ecology Progress Series 333: 1-12.

Cheung W.W.L., Pitcher, T.J. and Pauly, D. (2005). A fuzzy logic expert system to estimate intrinsic extinction vulnerability of marine fishes to fishing. Biological Conservation 124: 97-111.

Sadovy Y. and Cheung, W.L. (2003). Near extinction of a highly fecund fish: the one that nearly got away. Fish and Fisheries 4: 86-99.

Ar’ash Tavakolie – Senior Web Developer

arash_bioAr’ash is a software developer, and comes from an engineering/Artificial Intelligence background. He has been designing and developing .NET based solutions for about eight years.

Ar’ash designs and maintains the Sea Around Us suite of web applications and the related databases. He is currently busy working on ‘SwordFish (SF)’, which will replace the core components of legacy code with a multi-tiered architecture [DataWarehouse + AnalysisEngine + ClientModules]. He is developing SF to make the web/databases applications more agile, extensible and also lower the maintenance costs. SwordFish is based on OLAP/BI, C#, and .NET technologies. SF prototypes showed that MDX querying language is closer to the domain and can reduce the lines of codes by 80%.

Ar’ash is also an avid tea fan and likes reading books. Currently his favorite novelist is Haruki Murakami and his favorite programming gargoyle/guru/writer is Martin Fowler “Any fool can write code that a computer can understand. Good programmers write code that humans can understand.” Ar’ash regularly and enthusiastically baffles project staff during meetings by trumping the biologists’ ability to talk in technical jargon.

Lucas Brotz – Ph.D. Student



BSc (Astrophysics); MSc (Oceanography); currently enrolled in PhD (Zoology)

Research Interests

Jellyfish populations are increasing in numerous ecosystems around the globe. Not surprisingly, these increases are not uniform across time and space. So why are jellyfish increasing in some places and not others? What are the consequences for humans and ecosystems? And what, if anything, can we do to manage or prevent increasing jellyfish blooms?

Jellyfish population dynamics are complex, partly because of the unique life cycles of many species. Jellyfish may exist as pulsing medusae, sessile polyps, or cysts capable of resisting harsh environmental conditions. Reproductive strategies include sexual and asexual reproduction, as well as hermaphroditism. As such, jellyfish populations are influenced by a variety of anthropogenic and environmental factors at different, often cryptic, life stages.

Increasing jellyfish populations can impact humans in both negative and positive ways. Industries such as tourism, aquaculture, fishing, power generation, desalination, and shipping have all reported considerable economic losses due to jellyfish blooms. In contrast, fisheries that harvest jellyfish for food are expanding around the globe, and jellyfish are now a popular draw for public aquaria. As both human and jellyfish populations increase, new interactions are sure to emerge, as jellyfish get in our way and as we find new ways to exploit them.

Ironically, it appears that in some cases, humans may be responsible for the observed increases in jellyfish populations. While there is no single cause of increasing jellyfish populations, there is evidence that fishing, pollution, aquaculture, shipping, global warming, and coastal development can all create conditions that favour jellyfish over fish. Most of these links are only correlative, but the rise of jellyfish in coastal ecosystems worldwide should be cause for concern. We may need to decide now whether or not we want our children to be eating jellyfish burgers. If our behaviour doesn’t change, they might not have a choice.


Gregr, E.J., R. Gryba, M.C. James, L. Brotz, & S.J. Thornton (in revision). Information relevant to the identification of critical habitat for Leatherback Sea Turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) in Pacific Canadian waters. DFO Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Research Document.

Brotz, L. & D. Pauly (in press). Jellyfish populations in the Mediterranean Sea. Acta Adriatica.

Duarte, C.M., K.A. Pitt, C.H. Lucas, J.E. Purcell, S. Uye, K. Robinson, L. Brotz, M.B. Decker, K.R. Sutherland, A. Malej, L. Madin, H. Mianzan, J.M. Gili, V. Fuentes, D. Atienza, F. Pagés, D. Breitburg, J. Malek, W.M. Graham, & R. Condon (in press). Is global ocean sprawl a cause of jellyfish blooms? Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

Brotz, L. (2012) Of leatherbacks and lion’s manes. Sea Around Us Project Newsletter (71): 1-4.

Brotz, L., W.W.L. Cheung, K. Kleisner, E. Pakhomov, & D. Pauly (2012). Increasing jellyfish populations: trends in Large Marine Ecosystems. Hydrobiologia 690(1): 3-20 (Open Access).

Brotz, L. (2012). Learning about Pacific leatherback sea turtles by examining jellyfish. Report prepared for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 29 pp.

Brotz, L. (2011). Increasing jellyfish populations: trends in Large Marine Ecosystems. Fisheries Centre Research Report 19(5): 105 pp (Open Access).

Brotz, L., M. Lebrato, K.L. Robinson, M. Sexton, A. Sweetman, K. Pitt, & R. Condon (2011) Implications of increased carbon supply for the global expansion of jellyfish blooms.Limnology & Oceanography Bulletin (20): 38-39.

Brotz, L. (2011) Are jellyfish the food of the future? INFOFISH International (4): 60-63.

Brotz, L. (2010) Gelatinous Seas. Discovery, Nature Vancouver (39): 14-20.

Brotz, L. (2010) Mi Querida Argentina (My Beloved Argentina). Sea Around Us Project Newsletter (60): 1-3.

Brotz, L. (2010) What’s for dinner? Sea Around Us Project Newsletter (57): 4-5.

Media Coverage

Jellyfish Invasion, Costing the Earth, BBC Radio, May 22, 2012.

Rise of the jellies, Quirks & Quarks, CBC Radio, April 28, 2012.

Jellyfish numbers soar worldwide. CTV News Channel, April 21, 2012.

Jellyfish populations booming, CBC News, April 20, 2012.

Menace from the ocean deep. National Post, April 19 2012 (front page).

Jellyfish swarm coastal waters. Vancouver Sun, April 19, 2012 (front page).

Interview, As It Happens, CBC Radio, April 19, 2012.

Attack of the blobs. Nature (482): 20-21, February 2, 2012.

Growing jellyfish invasion oozes across southern U.S. The Toronto Star, September 20, 2011.

Jellyfish Swarms: Menacing or Misunderstood? LiveScience, October 20, 2010.

Interview – Fisheries Broadcast, CBC Radio Newfoundland, August 20, 2010.

Tofu of the Sea. Edible Vancouver (12): 18-19, Summer 2010.

Invasion of the Holiday Snatchers. The Economist.com, March 28, 2008.

Rashid Sumaila – Associated Faculty

rashidRashid Sumaila is Associate Professor, Director of the Fisheries Centre, and Director of the Fisheries Economics Research Unit at UBC Fisheries Centre. He has also been an active and key member of the Sea Around Us Project since its inception in 1999. He specializes in bioeconomics, marine ecosystem valuation and the analysis of global issues such as fisheries subsidies, IUU (Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated) fishing and the economics of high and deep seas fisheries. Rashid has experience working in fisheries and natural resource projects in Norway, Canada and the North Atlantic region, Namibia and the Southern African region, Ghana and the West African region and Hong Kong and the South China Sea. He has published articles in several journals including NatureJournal of Environmental Economics and Management, Journal of Bioeconomics, Land Economics, ICES Journal of Marine Science, Environmental and Resource Economics and Ecological Economics. Rashid’s work has generated a great deal of interest, and has been cited by, among others, the Economist, the Boston Globe, the International Herald Tribune and the Vancouver Sun. For more about his list and for his publications, click here.

Deng Palomares – Senior Scientist

DengMaria Lourdes ‘Deng’ Palomares is a Senior Research Associate with the Sea Around Us Project in charge of issues related to FishBase, a scientific database for the world’s fishes. She is also the  Project Coordinator for SeaLifeBase, a database patterned after FishBase for all marine organisms other than fish. In her capacity as SeaLifeBase Project Coordinator, Deng was appointed by the Board of the FishBase Information and Research Group (FIN, a Philippine NGO acting as the administrator of FishBase and SeaLifeBase) as Associate Scientific Director in September 2012. Originally from the Philippines, Deng obtained her Ph.D. from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure Agronomique de Toulouse (France) in 1991 and worked with the FishBase Project at the International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management (Manila, Philippines) for 10 years before joining the Sea Around Us Project in 2001.

Notable publications:

Palomares, M.L.D., Bailly, N. 2011. Organizing and disseminating marine biodiversity information: the FishBase and SeaLifeBase story. In: Christensen, V., Maclean, J. (eds.), Ecosystem Approaches to Fisheries. A Global Perspective, pp. 24-46. Cambridge University Press, New York.

Palomares, M.L.D., Pauly, D., 2011. Documenting the marine biodiversity of Belize through FishBase and SeaLifeBase. In: Palomares, M.L.D., Pauly, D. (eds.), Too Precious to Drill: the Marine Biodiversity of Belize, pp. 78-106. Fisheries Centre Research Reports 19(6). Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. ftp://ftp.fisheries.ubc.ca/FCRR/19-6.pdf

Palomares, M.L.D., Pauly, D. 2010. Marine Biodiversity of Southeast Asian and Adjacent Seas: Part 1. Fisheries Centre Research Reports 18(3). Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia [ISSN 1198-6727]. 96 p. http://fisheries.ubc.ca/sites/fisheries.ubc.ca/files/pdfs/fcrrs/18-3.pdf

Palomares, M.L.D., Pauly, D. 2009. The growth of jellyfishes. Hydrobiologia 616(1): 11-21.

Palomares, M.L.D., Pauly, D. Editors. 2008. Von Bertalanffy Growth Parameters of Non-fish Marine Organisms. Fisheries Centre Research Reports 16(10). Fisheries Centre, UBC, Vancouver, Canada. http://fisheries.ubc.ca/sites/fisheries.ubc.ca/files/pdfs/fcrrs/16-10.pdf

Palomares, M.L.D., Heymans, J.J., Pauly, D. 2007. Historical ecology of the Raja Ampat Archipelago, Papua Province, Indonesia. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 29: 33-56.

Pauly, D., Palomares, M.L.D. 2005. Fishing down marine food webs: it is far more pervasive than we thought. Bulletin of Marine Science 76(2):197-211.

Daniel Pauly – Principal Investigator

Born in France and raised in Switzerland, Daniel Pauly studied in Germany, where he acquired a doctorate in fisheries biology in 1979, from the University of Kiel. He did his first intercontinental travel in 1971 (from Germany to Ghana for field work related to his Masters) and has since experienced a multitude of countries, cultures, and modes of exploiting aquatic ecosystems in Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas. This perspective allowed him to develop tools for managing data-sparse fisheries, as prevailed for example in the Philippines, where Dr. Pauly worked through the 1980s and early 1990s.

In 1994, Dr. Pauly became a Professor at the University of British Columbia Fisheries Centre, and was its Director from 2003 to 2008. In 1999, Daniel Pauly founded, and since leads, a large research project devoted to identifying and quantifying global fisheries trends, funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts and called The Sea Around Us after Rachel Carson’s 1951 bestselling book. Daniel Pauly is also co-founder of FishBase.org, the online encyclopedia of more than 30,000 fish species, and he has helped develop the widely-used Ecopath modeling software. He is the author or co-author of more than 500 scientific and other articles, books and book chapters on fish, fisheries and related topics. Two of news books, reflecting his current interests were published in 2010: “Five Easy Pieces: Reporting on the Global Impact of Fisheries” and “Gasping Fish and Panting Squids: Oxygen, Temperature and the Growth of Water-Breathing Animals”. For more about Daniel Pauly’s work click here; and for a full list of his publications, click here.

Dirk Zeller – Senior Scientist and Executive Director

B.Sc. Hons. (James Cook University)
Ph.D. (James Cook University)

Dr Dirk Zeller is the Senior Scientist and Executive Director of the Sea Around Us (www.seaaroundus.org). He directs research activities and co-directs strategic research and funding decisions with the Project Principle Investigator, Prof. Daniel Pauly. Dirk leads research on global catch reconstructions and Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing, and engages in research on coral reef fisheries , ocean governance and fisheries policy. He collaborates closely with the Fisheries Economics Research Unit on issues in resource economics, with the Changing Ocean Research Unit on issues of climate change and fisheries, and with the UBC Faculty of Law on issues related to international maritime boundary law and the UN Law of the Sea Convention.

Dirk has over 250 scientific contributions, and published both in the primary literature (Nature, Science, PLoS ONE, Marine Policy, Marine Ecology Progress Series, Environmental Health Perspectives etc.) and in dedicated book chapters and research reports. Dirk was co-awarded the 2012 UBC Innovative Dissemination of Research Award and the 2011 Ecological Society of
America Sustainability Science Award. He collaborates with scientists in Australia, Asia, Europe, the Americas, the Caribbean and Pacific. He represents the Sea Around Us at conferences and workshops throughout the world.

Dirk has a background in tropical marine biology and fisheries ecology from James Cook University, Australia, and has professional interests in sustainability, strategic and global policy developments and resource economics, as well as marine reserves and coral reef ecology.

Click here for a full list of Dirk’s publications, including PDF’s