Twan joined DCNA in May 2016 and spent his first three months working for the Nature Foundation on the implementation of their Save our Sharks project before coming to join the Secretariat as Project Assistant in August 2015.
Twan is a marine and conservation biologist, specialized in fish community and shark research. He holds a BSc and MSc in Biology from Wageningen University in The Netherlands and for his masters he specialized in both marine biology and adaptation biology.
His interest in the aquatic life of the Caribbean and Central America played an important role throughout his study. During his first MSc thesis Twan investigated eye-body coordination during prey captures by newborn live-bearing fish from Costa Rica. Since prey capture events are in many respects highly variable he recorded over 2000 capture events using high-speed video and helped developing fully automated analysis protocols for both body and eye movements. Results of this thesis were recently published in proceedings B, a well-known journal for biological sciences.
During his second MSc thesis Twan lived on Saba for six months to study fish and shark communities on the Saba bank, a submerged atoll in the Caribbean Sea. He conducted a base-line fish survey, the first step towards effective protection. He also developed robust, quantifiable objectives and reference points for conservation (and fisheries) in order to be able to evaluate the performance of management actions.
For his study he used Stereo Baited Remote Underwater Video survey (BRUVs), which is a noninvasive method to study species richness, relative abundance and accurate length frequency of fish species such as sharks. Over 170 BRUV drops were executed during his thesis. After graduation last year Twan started working for IMARES Wageningen UR as tropical fish community analyst in the Dutch Caribbean (Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten and Bonaire). Twan also provides MSc students and Marine Park staff with fish survey/analysis training and advise.
Since May 2016 he is involved in the Save our Sharks project in the Dutch Caribbean as project assistant at DCNA. Communication, dedication, persistence and patience are the key words of this work. His strengths lie in conducting fundamental research and his ability to communicate with scientists and volunteers from various research fields, in providing constructive solutions by balancing between interests of different stakeholders and in looking for ways to gain consensus and get people to work together efficiently and effectively as a team.