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Michael Scholl

Shark Biologist and Conservationist

Michael was the Chief Executive Officer of the Save Our Seas Foundation from 2012 to 2019, which allowed him to merge decades of experience in science, conservation and education and his lifelong passion for conserving sharks and the oceans. Born in land-locked Switzerland along the shores of Lake Geneva, Michael’s love for the ocean transcended his personal geography. He attended University of Lausanne in Switzerland and graduated from University of Aberdeen in Scotland with a BSc in Zoology.

His initial field experience with sharks began in 1995 at the Bimini Biological Field Station in The Bahamas. He then spent the next decade studying the population and ecology of white sharks around Dyer Island in South Africa. In 2002, he founded the White Shark Trust to support research, education and conservation projects focused on white sharks.

His genetic, tagging and finprinting studies were integral in discovering a link between South African and Australian white shark populations. This work was a major factor in the decision to list white sharks on CITES in 2004. Michael’s research and conservation efforts have been featured in numerous television documentaries including BBC, National Geographic and Discovery Channel, and publications including Science, Nature, BBC Wildlife Magazine, and Africa Geographic. In 2006, Michael co-authored South Africa’s Great White Sharks (Struik Publishers) with photographer, Thomas P. Peschak.

Michael taught bilingual high school and IB level Biology, Mathematics and Physics classes in Lausanne, Switzerland, and worked for South African Explorer, Mike Horn on the Pangaea Expedition, assisting Young Explorers worldwide to establish environmental and social projects.

In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught.

Senegalese environmentalist Baba Dioum, 1968

In Summary

What i do

In Summary

Skills

Attainments

Skills

Management

Philanthropy
94%
Non Profit Organisation
88%
Science
92%
Conservation
96%
Education
85%

Software

Adobe Photoshop
94%
Adobe InDesign
82%
MicroSoft Office
90%
FileMaker Pro
80%
Final Cut pro
84%

Languages

English
100%
French
100%
German
80%
Swiss German
90%
Education

My bio

Education

Degree

  • Aberdeen, Scotland
  • Certificate
  • Academic Degree

Designated Degree of Bachelor of Science in Zoology | University of Aberdeen, Scotland

Student

  • Aberdeen, Scotland
  • University
  • Academic Education

University of Aberdeen | Zoology Faculty

Student

  • Lausanne, Switzerland
  • University
  • Academic Education
  • Undergraduate

Université de Lausanne (UNIL) – Faculté de Biologie | University of Lausanne – Biology Faculty

Student

  • Lausanne, Switzerland
  • University
  • Academic Education
  • Undergraduate

Université de Lausanne (UNIL) – Faculté de Physique | University of Lausanne – Physics Faculty

Certificate

  • Lausanne,Switzerland
  • Certificate
  • Education

Certificat de Maturité Fédérale (option Mathématiques et Sciences) | Swiss Federal Maturity Certificate (Mathematics and Science)

Student

  • Lausanne, Switzerland
  • High School
  • Education

Programme de Maturité Fédérale Suisse en option Mathématiques et Sciences | Swiss Baccalaureate Programme with Science and Mathematics option

Certificate

  • Blonay, Switzerland
  • Certificate
  • Education

Certificat d'Etudes Secondaires (Section Générale Technique) | Secondary Study Certificate (Mathematics/Science)

Student

  • Blonay, Switzerland
  • Primary and Secondary I school programme
  • Education

Établissement Scolaire Primaire et Secondaire | Primary and Secondary School

Professional

My bio

Professional

Professional 2020 to present

My bio

Professional 2020 to present

Expert Consultant

  • Self-employed
  • Clarens, Switzerland
  • Publishing
  • Communication

Coordinated and managed the text and visual content, editing, design, publishing and printing of the biography book ‘Genie – The life and Recollections of Eugenie Clark’ with author Dr José I. Castro on the life of Dr Eugenie ‘Shark Lady’ Clark (May 4, 1922 – February 25, 2015). This book is the second of a series of books on memorable and pioneering scientists in the field of Elasmobranch research and conservation. This book follows the ‘Shark Doc, Shark Lab – The Life and Work of Samuel Gruber’ with author Jeremy Stafford-Deitsch published in 2015 on the life of Dr Samuel H. ‘Doc’ Gruber (May 13, 1938 – April 18, 2019).

Professional 2010 – 2019

My bio

Professional 2010 – 2019

Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

  • Full-time position
  • Geneva, Switzerland
  • Philanthropy
  • Management
  • Communication
  • Photographer
  • Scientific Advisor

Founded in 2003, the Save Our Seas Foundation (SOSF) is a philanthropic organisation that aims to protect the world’s oceans. Its support for research, conservation and education projects worldwide focuses on endangered sharks, rays and skates. The Foundation offers a series of grants supporting the conservation of endangered species and their habitats. These grants nurture early-career professionals and encourage local initiatives carried out by local people. The Foundation works closely with project leaders to provide guidance and help projects gain international visibility through regular communication on the website, social media channels, public conferences and workshops.

In the effort to protect our oceans, the Save Our Seas Foundation funds and supports research, conservation and education projects worldwide, focusing primarily on charismatic threatened wildlife and their habitats.
I took overall responsibility for the planning, implementation, administration and management of all Foundation programmes, services and systems:

Administration

  • Established the administrative headquarters of this philanthropic organisation in Switzerland
  • Built and led a team of 15–20 people spread internationally
  • Established a core Scientific Advisory Panel for the review of applications
  • Expanded a network of national NPOs in nodal regions: South Africa and Seychelles
  • Led and developed three centres managed by the foundation: SOSF Shark Education Centre (South Africa), SOSF D’Arros Research Centre (Seychelles) and SOSF Island School Seychelles
  • Managed a US$3.5-million annual budget
  • Reported directly to the Board of Directors

Strategy

  • Streamlined the grant-making structure and review process
  • Established the Foundation as the world leader in shark and ray scientific and conservation circles
  • Initiated and implemented key conservation strategies for Mobulidae from 2013 to 2017, and Sawfishes, Wedgefishes and Guitarfishes from 2017 to 2021
  • Focused on developing the early-career support system

Communication

  • Developed and implemented the science translation communication strategy
  • Matured a high-end communication strategy through books, magazines, reports, dedicated websites and social networks
  • Created the Save Our Seas magazine and acted as the editor-in-chief and publisher for 10 issues in print, digital and web editions
  • Managed and published the Annual Reports in print and digital editions from 2013 to 2018
  • Lead the publication of several books and reports

Media

  • Rebranded the Foundation’s visual identity and designed its philosophical identity in 2013
  • Led the creation of new websites for the main website (www.SaveOurSeas.com), the linked centres’ websites and the Save Our Seas magazine website (www.SaveOurSeasMagazine.com)
  • Established and developed a social network presence on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter
  • Developed an educational immersive experience using 360 VR technology

Representation

  • Travelled internationally for 6–7 months per year
  • Visited project leaders worldwide
  • Provided personalised strategic and scientific support to projects
  • Provided documentary media support to projects: underwater, surface and aerial (drone) photography and filmmaking
  • Attended regional, national and international conferences (AES, EEA, SASRS, Sharks International, etc.)

Pangaea Young Explorer Program Coordinator

  • Full-time position
  • Château-d’Oex, Switzerland
  • Education
  • Exploration
  • Environmental and Social Project Management

Mike Horn is acknowledged as the world's greatest modern-day explorer. He wanted to pass on his knowledge to future generations, resulting in the Pangaea Expedition, a four-year (2008–2012) expedition following the circumnavigation of the 115ft sailing boat of the same name. Horn was calling for respect for our earth and active conservation of the environment. On his globe-spanning sailing expedition, he and his team initiated environmental and social projects both at sea and on land. We focused on environmental issues such as the melting of the ice caps at the poles, water pollution, creating awareness about the planet and developing solutions to preserve it for future generations. Over 100 Young Explorers between 15 and 20 years old from countries worldwide accompanied Mike on different stages of the Pangaea expedition. With the motto ‘Explore, Learn and Act’, these Young Explorers experienced the world’s beauty and actively contributed to conservation.

  • Coordinated the Pangaea Young Explorers Program
  • Responsible for all correspondence with Young Explorers
  • Assisted the Young Explorers to setup projects in their local communities and worldwide
  • Established, coordinated and promoted Pangaea Projects (ecology and conservation, water and sanitation, social community involvement)
  • Responsible for the selection of Young Explorers for the 10-day selection camps and expeditions
  • Arranged travel plans, reference and invitation letters for visas and schools, etc
  • Responsible for video media and portfolio management, storage and distribution
  • Secondary photographer and videographer for the project

Professional 2000 – 2009

My bio

Professional 2000 – 2009

Science & Mathematics Teacher

  • Full-time position
  • Pully, Switzerland
  • Education

Collège Champittet is a private school offering primary and secondary schooling, including the Swiss Maturity and International Baccalaureate (IB).

08/2009-07/2010

  • Full time (31 x 40-minute weekly classes) teaching position
  • Taught science classes and practicals in English in the bilingual programme section
  • Taught pre-bac secondary grade 9th and 10th Biology, Mathematics and Physics courses
  • Taught 11 HL Biology and 11 SL Mathematics IB (International Baccalaureate) Diploma courses

08/2008-07/2009

  • Full time (26 x 40-minute weekly classes) teaching position
  • Taught science classes in English in the bilingual programme section
  • Taught secondary grade 7th and 8th Biology classes including Ecology and Geology courses
  • Taught pre-bac secondary grade 9th and 10th Biology, Mathematics and Physics courses
  • Assisted with the school’s application and preparation for the IB (International Baccalaureate) Diploma

Expert Scientific Consultant and Expedition Photographer

  • Part-time position
  • Dubai, U.A.E
  • Exploration
  • Photographer
  • Scientific Advisor

This organisation explored new frontiers and presents these explorations to the public in the Middle East and beyond through the production of documentary films and the publishing of books. Involved in two projects: ‘Face to face with carcharias in South Africa’, a project on white sharks in South Africa, and ‘Socotra the Galapagos of the Indian Ocean’, a project on the remote Yemeni archipelago of Socotra.

  • Selected and organised information and literature research
  • Expert scientific advisor on expeditions and media content
  • Primary underwater and surface expedition photographer and second underwater film cameraman
  • Assisted with HD video digitalisation and editing using Final Cut Pro at the studio in Dubai
  • Introduced to the Arabic and Islamic culture by working and living with other team members solely from the Middle East during expeditions and while based in the U.A.E.

Founder & Owner

  • Web design
  • Web management
  • Marketing strategy

Founded and developed two successful internet companies:

Gansbaai.net – An information and booking portal to service the growing tourism demands in and around the coastal town of Gansbaai.

White Shark Discovery – An ecotourism company that specialised in providing exclusive, custom-tailored and educational excursions to discover white sharks.

  • Web design and maintenance
  • Management
  • Established marketing strategies to target international travellers
  • Specialist guide and tour operator
  • Both companies sold in 2002

Founder | CEO | Chief Scientist

  • Full-time position
  • Gansbaai, Western Cape, South Africa
  • Fieldwork
  • Science
  • Conservation
  • Education
  • Non-Profit Organisation (NPO)
  • Management

Chief Scientist

Worked as a shark biologist, establishing and running research and conservation projects on white sharks around Dyer Island.

  • Initiated and ran a long-term research project on the population structure and dynamics of white sharks around Dyer Island and Shark Bay
  • Developed an innovative shark population study tool (Finprinting) by designing a photograph-based identification methodology using the first dorsal fin 
  • Developed a stereo-photography technique to assess the length of free-swimming white sharks
  • Conducted the first biopsy sampling on white sharks in South Africa, which led to the first evidence of a transoceanic open-structure population, using DNA
  • Discovered the transoceanic migration of white sharks using satellite telemetry and identified the return of the famous white shark Nicole from Australia to South Africa using photographic fin-based identification
  • Established the largest white shark population database in the world
  • Published results in the renowned peer-reviewed scientific journals Nature and Science, and wrote a reference book on white sharks

Founder & CEO

Established an NPO in 2002 to research the white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) and foster its conservation. Major success: using media relations, exposing corruption and educating the public, we compelled a new alien species Atlantic salmon industrial aquaculture project, which threatened the local ecosystem and predator populations, to close.

  • Managed administration of organisation, e.g. secretariat and volunteer research assistant programmes; set goals and defined processes 
  • Designed, managed and administered diverse research projects; organised budgeting, fundraising and sponsorship
  • Public relations: gathered, managed and disseminated a maximum amount of information on shark biology and ecology to change public opinion about sharks and promote a positive attitude to them
  • Developed an international synergy, networking with all stakeholders, and media relations
  • Designed education and information material for print and website, and taught specialist courses on shark biology, ecology and conservation
  • Developed multimedia presentations for public as well as specialised audiences, e.g. 2005 Nuit des Musées at the Musée de Zoologie in Lausanne
  • Was invited to the 2001 IFAW African Shark Workshop in Cape Town, SA; the 2004 WCS White Shark Conservation Workshop in New York, USA, to supplement the 2004 CITES proposal; and the 2006 WWF Shark Specialist Workshop in Cape Town, SA, to define and implement solutions to resolve shark and human interactions
  • Acted as watch post for illegal poaching activities and stopped the illegal sale of white shark teeth

Team Leader

Established and led successful assistantship and internship programmes providing biologists with invaluable field research experience by integrating them into existing research projects. The assistantships lasted between one and six months, averaging two months.

  • Led a research team of up to six people
  • Welcomed 120 international research assistants, primarily from academic backgrounds
  • Established the programme as a recognised training facility worldwide
  • Enabled undergraduate university students to conduct independent projects
  • Dealt with crisis management resulting from living and working together 24/7
  • Established marketing strategies and advertising programme internationally

Professional 1990 – 1999

My bio

Professional 1990 – 1999

Research Assistant

  • Full-time position
  • Swiss Jura and Alps, Switzerland
  • Biologist
  • Fieldwork
  • Telemetry
  • Predators

National research and conservation management project on the population of reintroduced Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx).

  • Used radio telemetry to locate and track movements of individual lynx in western Switzerland (Swiss and French Jura) and the Swiss Alps
  • Responsible for triangulation, orientation, GPS and map handling
  • Tracked footprints and located prey: roe and white-tailed deers
  • Conducted computer-assisted data analysis
  • Full-time and temporary position

Founder | CEO | Chief Scientist

  • Full-time position
  • Gansbaai, Western Cape, South Africa
  • Fieldwork
  • Science
  • Conservation
  • Education
  • Non-Profit Organisation (NPO)
  • Management

Chief Scientist

Worked as a shark biologist, establishing and running research and conservation projects on white sharks around Dyer Island.

  • Initiated and ran a long-term research project on the population structure and dynamics of white sharks around Dyer Island and Shark Bay
  • Developed an innovative shark population study tool (Finprinting) by designing a photograph-based identification methodology using the first dorsal fin 
  • Developed a stereo-photography technique to assess the length of free-swimming white sharks
  • Conducted the first biopsy sampling on white sharks in South Africa, which led to the first evidence of a transoceanic open-structure population, using DNA
  • Discovered the transoceanic migration of white sharks using satellite telemetry and identified the return of the famous white shark Nicole from Australia to South Africa using photographic fin-based identification
  • Established the largest white shark population database in the world
  • Published results in the renowned peer-reviewed scientific journals Nature and Science, and wrote a reference book on white sharks

Founder & CEO

Established an NPO in 2002 to research the white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) and foster its conservation. Major success: using media relations, exposing corruption and educating the public, we compelled a new alien species Atlantic salmon industrial aquaculture project, which threatened the local ecosystem and predator populations, to close.

  • Managed administration of organisation, e.g. secretariat and volunteer research assistant programmes; set goals and defined processes 
  • Designed, managed and administered diverse research projects; organised budgeting, fundraising and sponsorship
  • Public relations: gathered, managed and disseminated a maximum amount of information on shark biology and ecology to change public opinion about sharks and promote a positive attitude to them
  • Developed an international synergy, networking with all stakeholders, and media relations
  • Designed education and information material for print and website, and taught specialist courses on shark biology, ecology and conservation
  • Developed multimedia presentations for public as well as specialised audiences, e.g. 2005 Nuit des Musées at the Musée de Zoologie in Lausanne
  • Was invited to the 2001 IFAW African Shark Workshop in Cape Town, SA; the 2004 WCS White Shark Conservation Workshop in New York, USA, to supplement the 2004 CITES proposal; and the 2006 WWF Shark Specialist Workshop in Cape Town, SA, to define and implement solutions to resolve shark and human interactions
  • Acted as watch post for illegal poaching activities and stopped the illegal sale of white shark teeth

Team Leader

Established and led successful assistantship and internship programmes providing biologists with invaluable field research experience by integrating them into existing research projects. The assistantships lasted between one and six months, averaging two months.

  • Led a research team of up to six people
  • Welcomed 120 international research assistants, primarily from academic backgrounds
  • Established the programme as a recognised training facility worldwide
  • Enabled undergraduate university students to conduct independent projects
  • Dealt with crisis management resulting from living and working together 24/7
  • Established marketing strategies and advertising programme internationally

Specialised Guide & Divemaster

  • Gansbaai, Western Cape, South Africa
  • Scuba Diving
  • Tourism
  • Scuba Diving
  • Specialised Guide

Worked for a time-limited basis as a specialist shark guide and educator; also responsible for scuba and snorkel dives, and acted as a second boat captain in the ecotourism shark cage-diving industry around Dyer Island near Gansbaai, South Africa.

  • Developed internal and external communication, establishing marketing strategies for the company, media relations and promotions
  • Managed and secured clients in restricted boat space and handled potential conflict situations with difficult clients; managed weather-related conditions
  • Integrated extensive briefings about the expeditions, local environment and diving procedure
  • Designed, established and presented daily pre- and post-expedition multimedia presentations about general shark biology, ecology and conservation, and the local ecosystem
  • Produced educational materials for displays and distribution
  • Guided thousands of international tourists through their discovery of white sharks and reshaped their attitude towards and understanding of sharks
  • Held temporary positions for various companies: Marine Dynamics (01/2006–11/2006), White Shark Discovery (04/2001–06/2002), White Shark Diving Company (05/1999–03/2001) and White Shark Research Institute (10/1997–04/1999)

Multimedia Developer

  • Full-time position
  • Vers-chez-les-Blancs, Switzerland
  • Multimedia
  • Presentations
  • Developper
  • Powerpoint

Identified and tested a range of multimedia software tools for alternative solutions to Powerpoint style presentations for top management level.

  • Proficiency in mFactory mTropolis, Macromedia Director and Microsoft Powerpoint
  • Developed high-end multimedia presentations
  • Provided final report and recommendations
  • Full-time and temporary position

Data Processor

  • Full-time position
  • Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Computer-assisted data processing and analysis
  • Team leader
  • Client liaison

Worked in the affiliation department of this insurance company.

  • Conducted computer-assisted data processing and analysis
  • Led team of up to 10
  • Trained new employees
  • Interacted with clients telephonically 
  • Full-time and temporary position

Teacher

  • Part-time position
  • Montreux, Switzerland
  • Teacher
  • Biology

Served as a replacement teacher (during incumbent’s maternity leave) at this prestigious private school.

  • Taught, in English, the upper secondary American High School level Grade 12 biology class

Research Assistant

  • Full-time position
  • Bimini Island, The Bahamas
  • Telemetry
  • Predator
  • Biologist
  • Tagging

Assisted in the long-term research programme into the life history and home range of lemon sharks (Negaprion brevirostris), led by world-renowned shark specialist and research pioneer Dr Samuel H. Gruber.

  • Followed sub-adult lemon sharks using ultrasonic telemetry
  • Experienced working in a team and organising continuous tracking sequences
  • Assisted with the start of a new research project using ultrasonic speed transmitters
  • Gained experience in long-lining technique, shark handling, and tagging with ultrasonic, streamer and PIT tags
  • Observed shark behaviour 
  • Based at the RSMAS (Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science) field station located on the remote Bahamian island of Bimini
  • Full-time and temporary position

Teacher

  • Part-time position
  • Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Education
  • Energy
  • Conservation

Mobile teacher and animator in primary and secondary schools, focusing on environmental education and making pupils aware of the past and present global energy situation.

  • Two-hour lectures with theory and experiments adapted to class level
  • Children ranged in age from seven to 16 years old
  • Provided an introduction to the different energy types and sources, their origins, and pros and cons
  • Active throughout the Canton de Vaud
  • Part-time and temporary position

Teaching Assistant

  • Part-time position
  • Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Education
  • University
  • Biology

Worked as a teaching assistant for undergraduate level biology laboratory classes.

  • Invertebrate biology lab (1st year biology), vertebrate biology lab (2nd year biology and 1st year medical students)
  • Demonstrated dissections 
  • Part-time and temporary position

Science

Science

Scientific Publication

Transoceanic Migration, Spatial Dynamics and Population Linkages of White Sharks – R. Bonfil, M. Meyer, M.C. Scholl, R. Johnson, S. O’Brien, H. Oosthuizen, S. Swanson, D. Kotze & M. Paterson. 2005. Science 310: 100–103. doi.org/10.1126/science.1114898

Sex-biased Dispersal of Great White Sharks – A.T. Pardini, C.S. Jones, L.R. Noble, H. Malcom, C.A.J. Duffy, M. Francis, B. Bruce, J.D. Stevens, G. Cliff, M.C. Scholl, B. Kreiser & A.P. Martin. 2001. Nature 412 (6843): 139–140. doi.org/10.1038/35084125

Isolation and Characterisation of Dinucleotides Microsatellite Loci in the Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias) – A.T. Pardini, C.S. Jones, M.C. Scholl & L.R. Noble. 2000. Molecular Ecology 9: 1176–1178. doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-294x.2000.00954-4.x

Scientific Posters

2011 Fin-printing Great White Sharks: Towards Computer Vision Identification of Individual Animals – B. Hughes, M.C. Scholl & T. Burghardt, In: Abstract and Programme Booklet of the 15th Annual Scientific Conference of the European Elasmobranch Association EEA, Berlin, October 28–30, 2011.

2004 Long-Term Photographic Identification Methodology and Population Structure of Great White Sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) at Dyer Island, South Africa – M.C. Scholl, In: Great White Shark Conservation Research Workshop, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) headquarters (New York, USA), January 20–22, 2004.

2003 Population Structure of Great White Sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) at Dyer Island, South Africa – M.C. Scholl & C.L. Griffiths, In: 2003 Zoological Society of Southern Africa: Wet’n Wildlife: Current Trends in Limnology and Zoology in Southern Africa ZSSA/ESSA/SASQA, University of Cape Town, Private Bag X3, Rondebosch 7701, Western Cape, South Africa, July 10–12, 2003.

2003 Long-term Individual Photographic Identification of the Great White Sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) – M.C. Scholl & C.L. Griffiths, In: 2003 Zoological Society of Southern Africa: Wet’n Wildlife: Current Trends in Limnology and Zoology in Southern Africa ZSSA/ESSA/SASQA, University of Cape Town, Private Bag X3, Rondebosch 7701, Western Cape, South Africa, July 10–12, 2003.

2001 Individual Photographic Identification of Great White Sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) for Field Population Projects – M.C. Scholl, In: 6th Indo-Pacific Fish Conference (IPFC), Durban, South Africa, May 20–25, 2001.

Video

Video

I invite you to discover some of the short videos I filmed and edited…