Katherine Taylor Simpkins
Taylor’s work as a marine biologist and underwater photographer has brought her to remote regions of the Pacific, Indian, and Southern Ocean to document global change to marine ecosystems.
Taylor’s most recent photo story on mass coral bleaching over the past 4 years has been featured in Australian Geographic and has been successfully used to improve protection and monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef by UNESCO and the Queensland government.
Growing up in California, Taylor is no stranger to the ocean. She focused on becoming a marine scientist from a young age and began an independent research project on plastic pollution at 11 years old, which she continued for her undergraduate research at the University of San Diego. Taylor’s current research, at the University of Western Australia, focuses on using coral skeletons from tropical seas and deep-sea reefs (including those from the Southern Ocean) to reconstruct the conditions of our oceans hundreds to thousands of years ago.
What is your most memorable Antarctic experience?
“Documenting tiger sharks scavenging a whale-fall off the Australian Northwest Coast: After receiving word of a humpback whale carcass drifting into the Exmouth Gulf with over 60 tiger sharks in pursuit of an easy meal, we drove 14 hours straight to document this rare event! Upon entering the water, we were able to document tiger sharks up close, making the most of the humpback whale migration, gracefully working in a rotation to take turns feeding on the carcass. This event has only been described by scientists a handful of times around the world!”