In the lead up to our 50th Jubilee we are profiling some of our former students. Today we are looking at Dr Riley Elliott.
Dr Riley Elliott (36) was born in Vancouver Canada, later moving to New Zealand at age five. Being a nature kid from the get go, and with parents who guided him to follow his passion, coupled with hard work and determination, Riley’s interest in the natural world took him to over 60 countries to dive, surf and experience culture. He has achieved a Bachelor of Science Honours in Zoology, a Master’s in Marine Science, and has applied academic principles from University, with real world field experience, to excel in the shark research environment. With unbelievable stories such as a 13 ft. Great White shark jumping into his research vessel, to freediving cageless with almost every dangerous species of shark in the world, Riley found his niche. Fear to fascination became his life motto and the ‘Shark Man’ was born.
Dr. Riley Elliott obtained his PHD in Marine Science in 2020, having described the behaviour and migration patterns of blue sharks in the south Pacific for the first time. Using satellite tags his work revealed remarkable journeys and ecosystem services provided by the most numerous yet exploited shark species on earth. Riley communicated his findings to the public through mainstream media which contributed to a ban on shark finning in New Zealand.
Riley’s passion to reconnect humanity with the importance of our natural world has spanned a wide range of forums, from narrating BBC’s Blue Planet II live in concert, to charitable events for school kids, corporates and mainstream media around the world. His academic education coupled with an extremely practical set of qualifications and experience, has paved a confident path for Riley to communicate his ideals. The moral fiber he exudes in a novel, engaging and inspiring manner has resulted in brand alignments with some of the world’s most credible brands like Microsoft, Ice Breaker, Mazda and GoPro.
Ultimately Riley is still a nature kid at heart, with a passion to encourage humanity to emotionally re-engage with nature by getting out there and interacting with it.
When asked about his time at Hillcrest High School riley stated, ‘there’s always that one teacher that cared that little bit more, made the extra effort and helped form who you became in life – at Hillcrest, every one of my teachers had that influence in their own particular way, and for this reason, I believe I became a very well rounded person, which has enabled the path I have walked to date’.