Sonia Rowley

Sonia Rowley - Hear Sonia for the first time at OZTek2019 Advanced Diving Conference Sonia Rowley at Balls Pyramid followed by a sea of noses taken by T.E. Roberts

Dr. Sonia J. Rowley is a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology. Her research is focused on gorgonian (sea fan) octocorals from shallow to mesophotic reefs down to the abyssal planes.

Sonia has been diving for nearly 35 years, starting at a young age due to her parents operating the MV Maureen in the UK. Today she uses closed circuit rebreather technology to conduct her primary fields of research: from the exploration of biodiversity on mesophotic reefs to the evolutionary ecology of gorgonian corals across bathymetry.

In 2015, Sonia received the prestigious Sir David Attenborough Award for Fieldwork from the Systematics Association and the Linnean, where she is now an elected Fellow. Rowley’s work was selected based on her project entitled “Exploration and Systematics of Twilight Reef Gorgonian Corals at Pakin Atoll.” She is only the third person to receive this award.

Due to the continual advances in closed circuit rebreather technology, the mysteries of these understudied deep reefs are now beginning to disclose breathtaking levels of biodiversity, yielding species and behavioural interactions new to science. Here Sonia will present on some of these findings, including her award-winning research for her work in Micronesia.

“It’s amazing to combine this advanced diving technology with marine science and biology. It involves continuously pursuing a suite of technological techniques to address various research questions, which essentially provide information to how deep gorgonian corals have been so biologically successful over time. In addition, this type of research has and continues to benefit local communities through increasing awareness and assisting in conservation management strategies.”

Rowley has been at UH Mānoa since 2010, first as a visiting scholar and then as a post-doctoral fellow with Prof. Steven M. Stanley. She received her doctoral degree from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand and Bachelor of Science at the University of Plymouth, United Kingdom.

Meet and hear Sonia present at OZTek2019 about how new diving technologies helps in the continual pursuit of knowledge and discovery in the deep ocean.

Sonia Rowley - Hear Sonia for the first time at OZTek2019 Advanced Diving Conference


Sonia Rowley gracing the cover of Science. Image by Richard Pyle