Meet Julian Finn

Meet Julian Finn

Julian Finn with Squid

What is your job title?

Research Biologist (Museum Victoria).

What do you study and why is it important?

I study cephalopods (octopus, squid and cuttlefish). As well as being immensely beautiful and intriguing, cephalopods play important roles in marine food webs.

What will you be doing on the voyage?

During this voyage I will be helping collect, sort, identify, fix, and preserve the biological material collected.

Where were you educated?

I completed a Bachelor of Science with Honours at the University of Melbourne and am currently in the final stages of writing my PhD based at Museum Victoria and La Trobe University.

How did you become interested in the ocean?

As a child I spent summers by the sea peering into intertidal rock pools and hunting for marine invertebrates. Every holiday I set up aquariums in our laundry and spent hours watching starfish walk on the glass and crabs bury in the sand. When I was old enough I snorkelled and then moved on to SCUBA. At university I couldn’t help but major in marine biology.

Do you get seasick? And if so, any tips on how not to?

Fortunately I don’t tend to get seasick. I do however try to allow my body ample time to get accustomed to the movement of the ship. Where possible I try to spend the initial component of the voyage on my bunk resting or out on deck in the fresh air. I avoid working below deck (especially with computers or microscopes) until I have my sea legs.

What do you enjoy about your work?

I love being on, in, or under the sea. I love the prospect of finding something new or seeing something for the first time. I love being on a 70 metre, ice-strengthened vessel heading for the sub-Antarctic… for me, it beats sitting in a car, in traffic, on the way to an office.

What are some of the challenges you face?

The toughest challenge associated with researching cephalopods is finding them. Shallow water species are experts in camouflage or escape. Open ocean species are rarely encountered. We know they are out there because their beaks (remains of their mouth parts) are regularly recovered from the stomachs of whales, seals, fishes and sea birds – yet they manage to evade our nets.

What have you learned/discovered? What do you hope to learn?

I have been involved in teams that have found and described new species, observed and recorded new behaviours, and tracked cephalopod movements using new techniques. I would like to understand how pelagic octopuses survive in open ocean – how they feed, avoid predation, and find a mate.

How do you spend your spare time?

As I am currently writing up my PhD as well working I don’t have a lot of spare time. I love to SCUBA dive, especially at night, and can often be found lugging multiple video and still cameras around under local jetties. My non-marine obsession is restoring 1960’s Holden’s (Australian motor cars) – preferably with a beer in one hand and a spanner in the other.

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