Dorvillea australiensis image logo image

What interests me?

Why do I have a splash on my pages?  A careful look at my CV tells the story.  I'm fascinated by interfaces.  Everything happens at the boundaries of our world.  Every physical process pushes energy, matter, and information back and forth across interfaces.  Whether we look where peaceful soft-sediments meet still deep waters or here, where land, sea, and air all combine in a dangerous but exciting place, we see life living on the edge.  Biology is shaped by the physical world and, surprisngly often, organisms shape their physical world in turn.


Curriculm Vitae (a comprehensive and current CV including work history is available upon request)



I seek challenging situations which call for interdisciplinary approaches to develop and promote marine and zoological science through original research, engineering, and creative education. Whether considering natural, educational, or management issues I take a systems analysis approach. This involves solving problems by identifying knowledge or comprehension gaps, bridging them for groups from different disciplines, and developing a consensus plan of action. The approach overcomes obstacles in a logically reducible, transparent, and inclusive fashion using appropriate technologies. I most enjoy working in a diverse, highly-motivated team environment committed to common science goals and leading technical groups.


Research Techniques and Interests

I have broad interests and have acquired proficiency with many of the methods and technologies common to science and education. I am comfortable with study tools ranging from SEM to sidescan sonar and GIS techniques. I appreciate opportunities which create linkages between organismal observations and ecological processes. My research specialisation is in the field of macrobenthic survey techniques including sediment-animal interactions using sediment profile imagery and environmental quality assessment through macrofaunal assemblage mapping. I have two decades of experience working with polychaetes from tropical, sub-tropical, and cool-temperate environments, but I enjoy working with all invertebrate phyla, especially enigmatic groups. I enjoy designing and constructing mechanical and opto-electronic hardware/software systems for underwater research.



  •  2007, Ph.D., University of Otago, Department of Marine Science; Macrofauna and meiofauna of energetic sediments near dredge spoil disposal areas
  • 1997, B.Sc., University of Hawai'i Manoa; Zoology Major (invertebrate ecology focus); Technical Theatre Minor (lighting/scenic design)
  • 1993, Wastewater Treatment study trac, Northern Michigan University
  • 1991, Diploma, Ishpeming High School


Work History

  • Director and primary consultant, Benthic Science Limited (est. 2004) private marine consultancy providing technical, analytical, and engineering services to benthic marine industries
  • Tertiary curriculum developer and educator, University of Otago and University of Hawai'i in zoology, marine science, and technical theatre
  • Secondary curriculum developer and educator, Guided Discoveries, Inc. providing adventurous science experiences for >25,000 children annually at island, ship, and mountain facilities including guiding for multi-day programmes
  • Manager, field and laboratory teams for US EPA marine coastal resources inventory project EMAP, Region 9 - Hawai'i
  • Researcher, University of Otago, University of Hawai'i, US SeaGrant programme
  • Artistic director, children's theatre programmes
  • Lighting designer, tertiary, professional, and community venues
  • Stagecrafter
  • Laboratory and field technician
  • Hotel night manager


Additional Skills

>50 WPM typing, marine aquarium design/maintenance, underwater photography, microscopy/microphotography, machining including manual lathe and mill work, MIG welding, underwater electromechanical and electro-optical system design/construction, Arduino microcontroller systems hardware and software, peer reviewer of literature manuscripts (primarily in animal-sediment interaction and envrionmental quality fields)


Certifications (past and present)

>730 h NZ Certification of Competency (Local Launch Operators License for commercial marine vessels <20m), Red Cross First Aid, DAN Oxygen Provider, Advanced/Research NAUI/PADI diver (>400 h), 100 FSW AAUS diver, Civil Aviation Authority (Rotary) currently adding hours (>12.5 h) for commercial helicopter pilot license in R22 and R44 types.


Personal Interests

Tramping, scuba/free diving, all stagecrafts, lighting design, road biking, enigmatic groups (tardigrades, kinorhynchs, etc.) 



New Zealand Marine Sciences Society (Membership Secretary 2004-2007, Web Manager 2005-2009), Macandrew Bay Yacht Club, International Polychaetology Association, Coastal Education & Research Foundation, Dunedin Makerspace Board, Peninsula Arts Appreciation Council Board (1990-1993), New Zealand Skeptical Society

Technical Experience and Skills

  • Lab and field experience with many of marine science's essential sampling tools including single beam/sidescan sonar, ROVs, SPI systems, and CTDs deployed from large and small vessels in addition to manual diver techniques and benthic analysis equipmetn and protocols (see
  • Developed and delivered several workshops on polychaetes, tardigrades, and macrofauna at the Waikiki Aquarium and New Zealand Marine Studies Centre (NZMSC)
  • Developed and published teacher's notes and activities to accompany an original "Connected!" (Ministry of Education) article on annelids and estuarine ecosystems which was distributed to 20,000 NZ school children
  • Provided educational and consultant services for Gifted and Talented programme for NZMSC
  • Developed and deployed a drop-camera system with high resolution still capture, remote video monitoring, and oblique anaglyphic capability
  • Developed and constructed a portable HD stereovideo camera system (100 m operational depth)
  • Developed and helped construct a 2 h interactive planetary simulator and team challenge
  • Theatre lighting design, rigging, and production at many professional and amateur venues


Computer Proficiencies

Standard: Microsoft Office and LibreOffice suites, and PostgreSQL

Image/Publishing: Scribus, GIMP, ImageJ, Photoshop/Imageready, PageMaker

Other: MATLAB, MiniTab, PRIMER-E, R, Surfer, Dreamweaver, GoLive, Caris' HIPS & SIPS, SonarWiz, PowerCAD Pro, SolidWorks, VectorWorks, Eagle, GRASS, QGIS, familiar with ARC suite


Languages: Limited functionality in multiple languages, but regularly develop specifications and benchmarks for contracted software engineers in Java, Arduino, Python, and C++ including USB and TWAIN in addition to GUIs designed for niche markets   


Selected  Environmental Consulting Works

Benthic structures and associated macrofauna of Lower Otago Harbour, Dunedin, New Zealand prepared for: Port Otago Limited and University of Otago

Impacts of heavy-equipment operations on sand-flat communities in Waitati Inlet prepared for: Chorus Telecommunications and East Otago Taipure Management Committee

Environmental impacts of dredge spoil from Pearl Harbour, Honolulu, Hawai'i prepared for: US Federal government and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Environmental impacts of Polydactylus sexfilis mariculture prepared for: Hawai'i state government

Marine Investigation of the Bluff Municipal Sewage Outfall prepared for: Invercargill City Council

Peer-reviewed Publications

Paavo, BL, Ham D, Gorlitz S, Probert PK (2012) How does tidal submersion time affect macroinvertebrate community patterns on a temperate sheltered sandflat? Marine and Freshwater Research, 63: 68–77.


Neuhaus B, Higgins RP, Paavo BL (2011) Chapter 10: Phylum Kinorhyncha (mud dragons). Dennis P. Gordon (ed.) in New Zealand Inventory of BioDiversity Volume 2, Chaetognatha, Ecdysozoa, and Ichnofossils, Canterbury University Press, Christchurch, New Zealand, 544 p.


Paavo BL, Jonker R, Probert PK, Thrush S (2011) Macrofaunal community patterns of adjacent coastal sediments with wave-reflecting or wave-dissipating characteristics. Journal of Coastal Research, 27(3): 515528.


Probert PK, Glasby CJ, Grove SL, Paavo BL (2009) Bathyal polychaete assemblages in the region of the Subtropical Front, Chatham Rise, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 43: 11211135.


Paavo B, Ziegelmeyer A, Lavric E, Probert PK (2008) Morphometric correlations and body mass regressions for Armandia maculata, Aglaophamus macroura (Polychaeta), and Zethalia zelandica (Gastropoda). New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 42: 8591.


Paavo B (2007) Soft-sediment benthos of Aramoana and Blueskin Bay (Otago, New Zealand) and effects of dredge-spoil disposal. PhD thesis, University of Otago Dept. of Marine Science, 498 p.


Probert PK, Paavo B (2004) Polychaetes. CD-ROM Review. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 38:753754.


Bailey-Brock JH, Paavo B, Barrett BM, Dreyer J (2002) Polychaetes associated with a tropical ocean outfall; synthesis of a biomonitoring program off O'ahu, Hawai'i.Pacific Science, 56(4):459479.


Bailey-Brock JH, Paavo B, Barrett BM, Dreyer J (2001) Changes in pollution indicators at the Sand Island Sewage Outfall. OCEANS 2001 MTS/IEEE Proceedings.

Paavo BL, Bailey-Brock JH, Akesson B (2000) Life history and description of a new species of Ophryotrocha (Polychaeta, Dorvilleidae) associated with the sewage outfalls of O'ahu, Hawai'i. Sarsia, 85(3):251264.


Paavo BL, (1998) Morphology and life history of an undescribed Ophryotrocha species (Polychaeta: Dorvilleidae) and its possible role as an indicator of organic enrichment.Pacific Science, 52(2):191.


Conference Presentations

Oral: 10th International Polychaete Conference (IPC) Polychaete community patterns of adjacent sediments with wave-reflecting or wave-dissipating characteristics. Lecce, Italy, 2010.


Poster: IPC Sandflat Showdown: Worms vs. Machines. Lecce, Italy, 2010.


Poster: IPC Polychaete distribution patterns in relation to superficial habitat structure. Lecce, Italy, 2010.


Oral: New Zealand Marine Sciences Society (NZMSS) Conference. Benthic habitats of Otago Harbour. Christchurch, 2008


Poster: NZMSS BioTally: a biological solution you can count on. Christchurch, 2008.


Poster: International Polychaete Conference. SPI-Scan: Affordable Sediment Profile Imagery. U. Maine, Portland, U.S.A., 2007.


Oral: Sediment Profile Imagery Conference. Convergent evolution: the NZ SPI-Scan system. Martin Ryan Marine Institute, U. of Ireland, Galway, Ireland, 2006


Oral: NZMSS. Dispersive dredge spoil disposal in New Zealand. Nelson 2006.


Oral: NZMSS. Effects of dredge spoil disposal on macrofauna of wave-dominated soft-sediments. Wellington 2005.


Poster: NZMSS. Affordable sediment profile imagery v2. Wellington 2005.


Oral: NZMSS. Soft-bottom invertebrate assemblages near dredge spoil disposal areas. U. Otago, Dunedin 2004.


Poster: NZMSS. Simulated dredge spoil burial of Zethalia zelandica. U. Otago, Dunedin 2004. (Winner ‘Best Southland Poster’ prize)


Poster: NZMSS. Affordable sediment profile imagery. U. of Auckland, Auckland 2003. (Winner of ‘Best Poster’ and ‘Most technologically innovative” prizes)


Oral: Albert Tester Memorial Symposium. Morphology and life history of an

undescribed species of Ophryotrocha (Polychaeta: Dorvilleidae). U. Hawai’i, Honolulu, Hawai’i, U.S.A., 1996.