Why sharks with Kathleen Russell?
Born in Hong Kong, Kathleen Russell grew up in Vancouver, Canada. At a very young age, she become a Junior National swimmer with a deep love for the sea. As she was growing up she worked as a lifeguard and Swim instructor for the Vancouver Parks Board.
After she graduated from University of British Columbia B Sc. in Agricultural Science, Kathleen traveled to Hong Kong where she learned to scuba dive in 1995. One year latter, she became a PADI instructor and started her activities in the Diving business working with Pro Dive Sino-USA in Hong Kong.
Working with the Diving community on conservation of Marine Parks, like Hoi Ha Wan, on the installation of artificial reefs, and on the organization of Underwater Cleanups, Kathleen become a Shark Advocate against shark fin soup and attended her first Press Conference of Reef Check in 1997. The following years she went to San Diego to dive with Blue Sharks, and to Donsol, Philippines, where she has been involved in a Whale Sharks monitoring program.
In 2001 as she moved to Abu Dhabi, UAE, Kathleen became a committee member for the EDA (Emirates Diving Association). From then on, Kathleen helped consistently with many EDA Annual Underwater and Beach Clean Ups and on many other marine conservation initiatives in the Region.
In 2010, Kathleen Russell started the Al Mahara Diving Center in Abu Dhabi, and one year later she became a PADI Course Director. Since 2012, she taught the PADI Shark Conservation Program and she organised school talks about Marine Conservation based on her personal knowledge and experience on Sharks, Marine Life and Dugong conservation in Abu Dhabi. One year later, Kathleen started Reef Check in Abu Dhabi, in 2013, she helped to organise the World Record breaking Underwater Cleanup in Abu Dhabi, with the ADMA/EAD/ADPA organizations.
In the past few years, Kathleen Russell worked with ‘Eyes on Earth Blue Carbon’ project. She has attended various Dugong Conservation and Coral Reef Conservation Symposiums. She has been inspired by Celine Cousteau, Fabian Cousteau, Pierre-Yves Cousteau and Dr Jane Goodall whom have all visited Abu Dhabi and local shark expert Dr Rima Jabado.
As an enthusiastic youth environmental educator, Kathleen became a Boy Scouts of America Den Leader for Cub Scouts, worked on MOCCE and Delma Marine artificial caves program and developed youth programs for outdoor adventure with a focus on marine and outdoor skills. Additionally she has conducted youth workshops on how to make an underwater ROV (remote operating vehicle) and have taught many school age youths to scuba dive.
Since January 2018, Kathleen Russell has worked with the Sharks Educational Institute to organise Shark Talks at schools and Bamboo Shark Diving Workshops in Abu Dhabi. In the future, she looks forward to establish a shark monitoring community in the Abu Dhabi region and to develop new shark and marine conservation initiatives working with the Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi.
Together with the youth outdoor development programs/workshops Kathleen aims to continue with the Reef Check Eco Diver training, the Project Aware Coral Reef monitoring, and the Shark Conservation and Whale Shark Awareness Programs. With her wealth of experience and passion for the ocean and community, Kathleen Russell integrates the Sharks Educational Institute’s Board as our Representative in the UAE.