Svenja Halfter

  • Area: Polar Marine Scientist
  • Nationality:
  • Age:

Young Tassie Scientist

PhD Candidate, Marine Biology
Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies,
University of Tasmania

Young Tassie Scientists 2018, 2020, 2021


I was always fascinated by extremes. Whether it was the anglerfish in the deep sea or the penguins in Antarctica, I was immediately hooked when I watched documentaries on the extreme environments of this planet. I decided: I wanted to be that person who does science in these environments! I studied marine biology in Germany and was lucky enough to spend over a year in the Arctic as part of my studies. What an amazing experience! For the first time, I could watch polar bears and seals in their natural habitat and could learn everything about small animals in the sea ice. Not to mention the fun I had driving snowmobiles or dog sledges and seeing the Aurora borealis in the night sky.

For my PhD project, I changed my research focus from the Arctic to the Antarctic and moved to Tasmania. Here, I study small animals in the Southern Ocean that drift with the water currents, called zooplankton, and how they help us fight Climate Change by storing carbon dioxide from our atmosphere in the deep sea. As part of my project, I identified zooplankton sampled in the deep Southern Ocean, from 1 km below the surface down to the seafloor. Even if I never really planned it, I – by accident – became a deep-sea scientist as well!

What I love most about my job is travelling the world and seeing amazing places while doing things I love. I spend a year of my life on ships to research the Southern, Arctic, Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Ocean, I counted whales and dolphins on big container ships while crossing the Atlantic, fished for crustaceans in the deepest freshwater lake on Earth and travelled for scientific meetings around the world (unfortunately less in COVID times). When I need a break from science, I’ll go bushwalking and camping to enjoy Tasmania’s great nature.

Follow Svenja on Twitter: @svenja_halfter 

Watch Svenja’s videos below!

Introducing Svenja Halfter: (suitable for all ages)

A day in the life of a Polar Marine Biologist: (suitable for all ages)

Fishing for Zooplankton: (suitable for all ages)