Dive into Conservation: How Odin Neil Turned his Passion for Diving into a Conservation Career

Have you ever dreamed of a career that combines your love for the ocean with your passion for wildlife conservation? Meet Odin Neil, an Auckland Zoo keeper, who’s diving experience has taken him from the depths of the sea to the forefront of marine conservation efforts.

Odin started his diving journey over a decade ago with DiveHQ, where he completed his Open Water, Rescue, and Advanced diving courses. Little did he know that this initial step would lead to a fulfilling career blending diving with his love for animals and conservation.

Today, Odin works as an elephant and seals keeper at Auckland Zoo, where he has spent the last 15 years working closely with the Subantarctic fur seal, Orua and Asian elephant, Burma. Caring for Orua involves cleaning his pool, conducting underwater training sessions, bringing the Zoo’s visitors closer to wildlife and talking about the issues these marine mammals face. These issues include plastic pollution, marine debris, and sewage that harms wildlife, overfishing that depletes marine populations and disrupts food chains and habitat loss that destroys marine ecosystems and biodiversity. Odin finds joy in every aspect of his work and one of the most rewarding parts of his job is sharing his passion for wildlife and conservation with others, whether it’s through educational encounters with visitors or advocating for marine conservation during his diving sessions.

Auckland Zoo has a long-standing commitment to marine conservation, including various pinniped species like the New Zealand fur seal and the endangered New Zealand sea lion. Collaborating closely with the Department of Conservation, the Zoo provides crucial support for native fur seals in need, from urgent medical attention to rehabilitation and relocation efforts.

New Zealand’s marine environment boasts over 15,000 known species, including various pinniped species like the New Zealand fur seal and the endangered New Zealand sea lion. With fewer than 12,000 New Zealand sea lions remaining, Auckland Zoo has been at the forefront of research and conservation initiatives for this vulnerable species since 2011.

From 2013 to 2018, Odin has worked alongside Auckland Zoo-funded staff, who have assisted in the official pup count of New Zealand sea lions at Port Pegasus, Stewart Island. This collaborative effort with DOC staff and Dr. Louise Chilvers of Massey University led to a significant milestone – the establishment of Port Pegasus as the first New Zealand sea lion colony on the mainland in over 150 years.

In essence, Odin’s story reminds us that with determination, passion, and a willingness to dive deep, we can embark on a career that not only fulfils our dreams but also leaves a legacy of conservation.

DiveHQ offers a wide range of recreational and professional diving courses that suit every level of diver, from beginner to advanced. Take the first step towards your dream career today and explore the exciting opportunities that await beneath the surface. Chat to Mike and the team at DiveHQ, to find out more about diving courses and career opportunities that best suit you.

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