Krystelle Lavaki Danford’s interest in wildlife conservation began at a young age. When she was just five years old, her father gifted her with her first snorkel set, and therein began her love affair with the ocean. Inspired by years of watching National Geographic and documentaries by David Attenborough and Sylvia Earle, she was constantly excited about what she could learn about the ocean and discover within its depths.
As she grew older, her fascination with the ocean transformed. She wanted to protect this mysterious blue haven and the creatures that lived within. She also wanted to contribute to conservation issues that directly affected the communities in her country, most of whom depended on the ocean for their livelihoods. Since then, Krystelle has accomplished much via three fundamental approaches: spreading the message of marine conservation through education, conserving marine resources, and discovering new approaches to problems.
By choosing an applied science topic that was also connected to the work of key organizations like the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Ministry of Fisheries, Krystelle realized she could add to their body of work through her own research on how best to improve fisheries management in Fiji.
Being a marine biologist has exceeded the dreams of her five-year-old self. Her work experience with WCS and Nature Fiji-Mareqeti Viti taught her the value of engaging with local communities and harnessing their knowledge to build more resilient conservation strategies. Her internship at Global Vision International, where she conducted baseline surveys along the reefs of Motoriki in Fiji, was critical in helping the Fiji government determine the impact left behind by the 2016 Cyclone Winston on their natural resources.
Krystelle hopes to take her education to the next level by focusing on a variety of marine species—rather than a single species—and studying the pressures that affect their populations, from overfishing to habitat loss. In this way she hopes to aid in their conservation as well as help the coastel communities in Fiji devise better techniques to meet their basic food security and livelihood needs. There is little doubt in our minds that Krystelle will make the impact she hopes to make, both within her community and country, as well as within marine conservation.