Richard Coward Director of Marine Education

Title: Director of Education               Studied: Marine Biology, Griffiths University

“I’ve always been incredibly passionate about the marine environment. I love my job, working with children and adults to educate and inspire them to love the ocean and to want to protect it”.

Richard has extensive experience managing exhibits in local and overseas aquariums, working with sharks, seals, penguins, turtles, sea jellies, fish, octopus and invertebrates to name a few.  He has been involved in research projects such as buoyancy syndrome turtle research, shark research and breeding programs.

Memorable Ocean Experience: Assisting with a whale rescue in Coolum back in 1996 after the calf had become stuck on a sand bank.

Favourite Ocean Creature: Well, that’s tricky as there are so many diverse and amazing creatures out there…but if I had to pick, I guess it would be the dolphin or octopus. Dolphin, because of their intelligence and playful nature. Octopus, also because of their intelligence and also their amazing ability to camouflage against any habitat.


Tracey Coward

Title: Business Manager               Studied: Masters in Business Administration

“I’m proud to be playing a part in nurturing young environmental leaders of tomorrow. I’ve watched my kids grow up sharing our love for animals and the natural environment. It’s so important for children to get the opportunity to experience these things first-hand”.

Memorable Ocean Experience: “I love getting in the ocean and checking out the marine life. I recently went snorkelling with humpback whales and manta rays at Lady Elliot Island with my three (grown up!) kids, which was an incredible thing to do together”.

Favourite Ocean Creature: Humpback whales and manta rays. I’ve been lucky enought to get close to both in their natural habitat. They seem curious and intelligent.


Isla Toomey

Title: Marine Education Officer               Studying: Bachelor of Science – Major in Marine Biology

“I love travelling and snorkelling and spend a lot of time out on the water. I’ve been involved in lots of fascinating marine study field trips; including Heron Island, Fraser Island and Stradbroke Island – researching habitats, ecosystems and marine animals. I’ve also worked in marine labs researching plankton, and have driven ROVs, exploring the ocean floor, which is great fun!”

Memorable Ocean Experience: Swimming with manta rays!

Favourite Ocean Creature: Now this is tough because there are so many amazing ones! If I had to choose it would be manta rays. Manta rays are so mysterious and majestic. They are highly intelligent, have the largest brain to body weight ratio of any cold-blooded fish and are among the largest animals in the ocean, growing up to seven metres across!!! They are so intelligent that studies have even shown they may be able to recognise themselves in a mirror, which I find really cool!


Jacqui Lardner

Title: Marine Education Officer               Studied: Masters of Conservation Science, University of QLD

Memorable Ocean Experience: Surveying fish and sea cucumbers

Favourite Ocean Creature: Leatherback turtle. Because they are the largest and deepest diving turtles on earth…and they have a soft skin covering their shell!


Hayley Gee

Title: Marketing & Resources Manager               Studied: Hons Degree – European Business, UK

“I love the ocean. It’s such an amazing place full of fascinating habitats and life and I’m proud to play a part in trying to protect it for future genrations to enjoy”.

Memorable Ocean Experience: I’ve dived in some amazing places, but I think my most memorable dive was my first ever qualified dive. The minute we were at the ocean floor, a three-metre hammerhead shark swam by! I grabbed the dive master by the arm and wouldn’t let go. It was a totally amazing experience! I love sharks and wish the media would realise how important they are and stop giving them such a bad press!”.

Favourite Ocean Creature: “This is tricky…it’s a toss-up between the octopus and the humpback whale. Octopus, because they are so clever and versatile and humpback whales because they are so acrobatic and are part of our lives for half the year here on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland”.


Tahnee Hanlon

Title: Business Development               Studied: Cert IV in Business

“I just love everything about the ocean – seeing and being in the water with sea life. Snorkelling, diving, exploring by kayak or stand-up paddle board – I’m in the ocean any time I get the chance!”

Memorable Ocean Experience: I’ll never forget swimming at Cable Beach, WA – as I was leaving the water, there was an alert put out – a great white shark and a 6-metre saltwater croc were swimming right where I had just been… eek!!! Another funny ocean experience was feeding the dolphins on Moreton Island – such amazing mammals with cheeky characters. One tried to trip me up so I would drop the bag of fish – she persisted until I did!

Favourite Ocean Creature: Turtles. I love being in office with our turtles! It has been proven that turtles can recognise their keepers and they certainly have intelligence. I will often be at my desk and turn to see four sets of curious eyes watching me as they press up against their tanks, waiting for me to go over and spend time with them. Nothing beats seeing a happy turtle dance. I love the way they press their little flipper against the glass to follow my hand!