Hannah Medd (MSc Zoology, 2007)


Hannah Medd

Hannah Medd

What did you study at UCT?

I graduated in December 2007, Master’s of Science in Zoology from the Marine Biology Research Institute, thesis on Predicting South Africa’s marine biodiversity. 

Where in the U.S. are you?

I now live with my husband, South African Ivan Rutzen, in Delray Beach, Florida.

Tell us about your career.

I am a marine biologist with Shark Savers, a shark conservation organization. I am currently helping to manage and further develop the Shark Sanctuary Program that supports worldwide grass root efforts to establish protected areas for sharks. I am also helping to develop the scuba diver programs within our organization. Divers are a key demographic for ocean conservation and many are passionate about sharks but I have found that a shockingly large percentage of divers are unaware of the conservation issues sharks face.  We are working to help spread the word throughout this community by education and awareness campaigns and developing programs that interested divers can participate in, like surveys and counts. I work from home which allows me to be flexible with my time. I have traversed Florida, giving presentations to numerous dive shops, dive clubs, and nature organizations throughout Florida on the biology and conservation status of sharks.

Hannah Medd Alumni

Photo credit: Ivan Rutzan

I am part of the team that is working to add several shark species to the prohibited list here in Florida. I recently finished field work with staff from the Bimini Biological Field Station, tagging sharks off the coast of Florida. I am able to attend science conferences, like the International White Shark Symposium, to keep up to date with the latest scientific research on all sharks and marine issues. Working closely with the dive community, I have been afforded many opportunities to dive in awesome places like Hawaii and the Bahamas, but some of my favorite places are off the coast of South Africa and Mozambique! I am hoping to expand our programs in to Africa where there is already a strong sense of conservation. My shark enthusiasm was sparked in South Africa, initially when I visited prior to enrolling at UCT for my master’s. And it was bolstered by the opportunity to work with the excellent shark scientists at the University once I became a student.

Where do you enjoy traveling in the US?

Recently, I traveled to Rhode Island to dive with blue sharks. The coast up there is a breath of cool fresh air compared to the August heat of Florida and I got to spend time in the water with some stunning blue and mako sharks. I’m still a Florida girl and love loading the kayak up and heading to the Keys. My land-loving side treasures my parent’s horse farm in western Maryland which sits snug between mountain ranges.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

A lot of my spare time is spent in or on the water.  I dive as much as I can. I love to snorkel, swim, kayak, and look forward to trying a stand up paddleboard. When visiting my parents, I get back to my roots and ride horses. I always have my camera in hand to capture the fun!

Hannah Medd Alumni

Photo credit: Ivan Rutzen

Where’s your home town?

My hometown is Middletown, Maryland, USA

What are your favorite memories about UCT?

Looking back, I have very fond memories of UCT. Coming from America, I was intimidated by the campus, but everyone was so helpful. I soon learned when to arrive to get parking and the best coffee and croissant was at the stand right outside the Zoo building! I saw my first rugby match and watched the 2004 summer Olympics at the Club. The gorgeous backdrop of Table Mountain and the awesome people, many of whom I am lucky to still call good friends, made for an unforgettable 3 years at UCT! I also fondly remember slipping on the steps in front of the library after a good rain in the morning and later that day, when headed to my car, parked along the upper road, I skidded down the ‘shortcut’ and was covered in mud. All I could do was laugh!

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