Meet the Boffa Miskell ecology team: Dr Tommaso Alestra

10 February 2021

Marine ecologist Dr Tommaso Alestra brings a passion for the ocean and a wealth of experience to the Ecology team.

Tommaso says his love for the sea began in childhood, when his family would spend a few weeks’ summer holiday in Sardinia.

“I learned to freedive in Sardinia when I was 10; and once I started exploring the underwater word (and annoying some of its inhabitants) I was hooked for life. During the rest of the year, away from the coast, I still experienced the sea as best as I could through documentaries and any other resources I could put my hands on… I vividly remember some Jacques Cousteau comic books.”

After earning both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree at the University of Pisa, he moved to New Zealand to pursue a doctorate at the University of Canterbury; and joins Boffa Miskell as a marine ecologist with experience in applied quantitative research (manipulative experiments, habitat surveys and environmental impact assessments) in intertidal and subtidal habitats both in New Zealand and in the Mediterranean.

Leigh Bull, Technical Leader for Science, says, “Tommaso adds to the breadth of Boffa Miskell’s marine science team; as he joins Jacqui Bell in the Hamilton office, and Sharon De Luca in Tauranga.”

“Along with Jacqui and Sharon, I will be involved with assessing the ongoing effects on the environment of projects currently underway, and predicting the potential impacts of projects which may start in the future if they obtain the required consents – which also depend on our ecological assessments,” Tommaso explains.

“I collaborate with landscape planners on assessments of coastal natural character; and help when needed in other areas, particularly freshwater fieldwork, which is a nice change of scenery for me.”

Unsurprisingly, the ocean is a preferred playground for Tommaso and his family. “My wife and my son are also ocean lovers and we live by the beach here in Southshore. We spend lot of time walking, playing in the sand and splashing in the waves. My wife and I used to do lot of tramping, but at the moment with a 18-month-old we stick to day walks.”

Though he has traded the Arno River and the Mediterranean Sea for the Avon River and the South Pacific, Tommaso says some truths are universal.

“It’s important to recognise that the marine environment is closely connected to land and rivers, and regulate our habits and choices on the basis of that relationship,” he says.

“And we should never think that the problems are so big that what we do won’t make any difference. Once again, our habits and choices are the starting point to trigger changes at a higher level.

“New Zealand has shown (with the response to COVID) it can lead the way in the response to serious problems. It is a matter of attitude and it frustrates me to hear people saying that we are too small and we can’t do anything against climate change.”