Dr Dean Miller travels to some of the most inhospitable, challenging and remote corners of the globe to to research, showcase and protect diverse marine life.
In his roles as a Scientist, Marine Biologist and Filmmaker, he’s determined to make a difference and says he’s seen too many examples of our ocean and its creatures being treated as a money making resource, rather than being looked after.
Armed with his camera, and his knowledge of the marine world, Dean is on a mission to show others just how beautiful the natural world is, and why it deserves our respect.
He shares his story with the Macpac Blog.
Dean’s interest in the marine environment started when he was just a child – he says he knew from a very young age that when he grew up, he wanted to be a Marine Biologist.
“I don’t know why, but I just did. This was a little strange growing up in suburban Melbourne, but regular trips to the beach and going fishing with my Dad on weekends inspired and nurtured my love for the ocean. It was always the big unknown, and the thought of Scuba diving and exploring this other world was all I could think of. What is fantastic to me is that nothing has changed and I find the natural world more exciting than ever,” says Dean.
He went on to spend eight years at University studying Marine Science, and has since enjoyed an exciting and challenging career. He’s spent the last 15 years exploring the tropical coral reefs of the Indo-Pacific region, and observed hundreds of animals in their natural environments. While he’s seen some of the most beautiful places on the globe, Dean says it’s the more extreme places that interest him the most.
“One example is the 12 months that I was fortunate to spend on the Australian sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island in 2008 researching fur seals. This was one of the most incredible experiences of my life – and also where I learned to film.”
He says the Antarctic is definitely the harshest place he’s visited – but only just.
“Greenland is a close second and they are very similar in many ways. Antarctica is the most ‘otherworldly’ place I have ever gone on expeditions to. Nothing about it reminds you of anywhere else you have been and it really does feel like another planet. Going down by ship is highly recommended because I think you have to earn the right to go there – toughing out the high seas to emerge a little shaken in the most beautiful and hostile place on Earth. It is cold, barren unforgiving and clearly not a place humans can survive unassisted, and once you are down there you know you are further from home than you have ever been,” he explains.
As a Scientist and film maker, Dean has acquired both the knowledge and technical skills to tell the stories that matter most to him. He’s worked on a number of documentaries that explore our natural world, and the many creatures that call it home.
“I love seeing wildlife in its natural habitat and in large numbers. It gives me a glimpse of what life might have been like all over our planet at one point in time. My inspiration is to share these experiences and research findings with everybody through my camera lens, so they too can appreciate just how special our life on Earth really is!” says Dean.
Dean set up Adventure for Change in 2012 with photographer and adventurer Aaron Jamieson, and Marine Scientist Jenna Rumney. The organization is made up with a passionate group of scientists and filmmakers that explore remote wilderness and bring back stories of the animals and people who live there.
“Adventure for Change looks at extreme ways that people are out there making changes for a more sustainable future. Our first expedition was to Greenland in 2012 for three months where we explored more than 5000km of the remote and completely unpopulated north eastern corner of the country to determine how climate change is impacting on wildlife and the environment.”
Since then, the Adventure for Change team has spent the last three years with the Dwarf Minke Whales on the Great Barrier Reef studying behaviour, biology and migration patterns. Their next adventure will involve climbing three of the highest and most biologically significant and unique peaks in Far North Queensland.
“Adventure for Change is really pushing the boundaries in terms of how scientific data is collected. In essence it is adventurous people working hard to make big changes and it incorporates everything I love about expeditions and science all at once.”
“I want to highlight the fact that no dollar value can justify destroying these things forever. We are at a tipping point, and unless things drastically change, and we work together to protect and conserve the places we love, they will disappear. What outright scares me is that instead of learning from our lessons, we seem to be ignoring them and the extent at which we are losing our biodiversity and critical habitats is greater than ever before,” says Dean.
When he travels to some of the world’s most hostile environments, Dean knows that good gear is key. We first partnered with him in 2008, and have since worked with him to ensure he has the right clothing and equipment to survive in harsh environments like Antarctica, while he carries out his important work.
“Knowing that you have the right kit for the expedition is essential. It means you can concentrate on the job at hand without worrying about whether your gear is up to the test. You just know it is – and that has enabled me to push further every time to collect a critical piece of data, or to get that ground breaking shot. I can tell you first hand how important it is to set up your tent in a blizzard in -30C conditions, knowing that it will hold up, and that you will be safe and warm in your sleeping bag until it all blows over”.
For more on Dean, you can check out his website DeanMiller.com.au.