My name is ALFONSO SICILIANO, Senior Fishery Ranger at the Department of Conservation (New Zealand Government) and PhD in marine ecology (University of Canterbury, New Zealand).
I am an experienced marine ecologist with expertise in marine benthic communities, underwater photography and scientific diving, ecological assessments and monitoring, anthropogenic impact assessments. Recently I have expanded my research interests in the area of freshwater ecology and fishery biology.
My strong interest and dedication for the use of technologies in science has always had a decisive role in my scientific career, supporting my success in proposing innovative, and sometimes alternative, methods to run surveys and monitoring, simply… coupling, supporting, replacing, combining tools, devices, and technologies. This provided me with the great chance to test and work with a large number of advanced equipment in all teams I have been working in, from 3D printers to drones, from software for image analysis to GIS, from electric boats to automatic fieldwork scanners and time-lapse cameras.
BSc and MSc. I obtained a BSc in biological sciences at the University of Study of Catania (Italy), with a thesis in marine ecotoxicology entitled “Parablennius sanguinolentus (Pallas, 1814): an example of Teleost Blenniidae bioindicator”. Subsequently, I obtained a MSc in marine biology and ecology at the University of Study of Messina (Italy), finalized by a thesis entitled “Photoquadrat technique and use of CPCe software for the evaluation of the impact of recreational diving on the macroalgae coverage of ‘Zenobia’ shipwreck (Cyprus – Mediterranean Sea)”. The research project, supported by AP Marine Environmental Consultancy Ltd., was conducted in Cyprus and focused on one the 10 best shipwrecks and one of the 25 best diving site in the world.
Eco Divers. Before moving to New Zealand, I was the Technical Advisor and Project Manager at Eco Divers – Centre of Underwater Scientific Studies, strongly involved in subtidal surveys and monitoring using scientific diving and photographic techniques, and providing academic support for graduates and undergraduates, in collaboration with Marine Protectes Areas, Universities and stakeholders.
PhD. In 2018, I earned a PhD in experimental marine ecology at the University of Canterbury (New Zealand), within the Marine Ecology Research Group and ThomsenLab. My research projects were focused on ecosystem functions and biodiversity in intertidal and subtidal marine and estuarine benthic communities. I investigated the mechanisms underpinning direct and indirect species interactions in a wide range of habitats and involving a large number of actors. Each project consisted of a combination of descriptive local and extensive spatio-temporal surveys and general and specialized manipulative experiments, in concert with the use of a wide range of techniques and technologies, including complex factorial designs, morphological and fractal analysis, 3D modelling, and drone surveys.
Department of Conservation. Since 2018, I am a Senior Fishery Ranger in the Taupo Fishery team, at the Department of Conservation of New Zealand Government. The Taupo Fishery team manages, protects, and regulates the fishery in the Taupo District and the Tongariro River, some of the most popular destinations in the world for trout fishing, in collaboration with the Tongariro National Trout Centre. My role at DOC consists mostly on planning and coordinating projects that support the fishery, such as monitoring and ecological assessments, and providing technical support for the implementation of technologies in support to innovative investigative tools, such as morphometric analysis, automatic fish counter, drone surveys.
DIVING AND FREEDIVING
Always driven by a boundless passion for the sea, in 2004 I completed the freediving Apnea Academy courses in Ustica (Italy), with the records of -27 m in constant weight apnea (CWT), 70 m in dynamic apnea with fins (DYN), and 4’06” in static apnea (STA), subsequently increased at 75 m for dynamic and 4’58” for static apnea in 2010.
I am a Boat Master and have extensive experience in operating inflatable, alloy-hulls, and electric boats, and I am a Dive Master CMAS and Occupational Scientific Diver under WorkSafe NZ, with specialties in Enriched Air Nitrox EAN 40% and Full Face Mask, and with more than 800 dives in a wide range of conditions, among these caves, deep, deco, shipwrecks, drift and night dives.