Elitza Germanov

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PhD Candidate

My interests in marine science are conservation oriented, with a focus on understanding anthropogenic threats on large marine species and their immediate habitats. My work up to date has focused on threats to manta rays in Indonesia where I have previously worked in marine-based eco tourism. I have contributed knowledge on movements and spatial ecology of manta rays and provided evidence supporting their countrywide protection in Indonesia as well as recent Manta alfredi inclusion to CMS. Moving forward I aim to provide an assessment of the threats of marine debris to large marine plankton-feeders such as manta rays and whale sharks and provide motivation to improve waste management practices, particularly in and around key habitats. I will use a multi-disciplinary approach to this project that will also require me to draw back on my previous training in biochemistry. Through my current and future projects my goal is to provide a scientific framework for sound policy and decision-making regarding marine environments located in the developing world.
The goal of my current project “Microplastics & Megafauna” is to provide an assessment on the implication of marine debris on threatened plankton-feeders, focusing on manta rays (Manta alfredi) and whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) in Indonesia. Pending funding the project has the opportunity to expand to incorporate comparative analysis in other regions including the South Eastern African coast and the Philippines and to include Manta birostris and Mobula spp.
Marine debris is currently ranked high on the list of threats to manta rays (Couturier et al. 2012); however, no formal studies to date have attempted to quantify the threat level. As plankton–feeders, known at times to feed at the surface-water interface, where most buoyant plastics are found, manta rays are at risk of ingesting small pieces of plastic known as microplastic. As plastics are known to concentrate organic contaminants or persistent organic pollutants such as DDTs and PCBs there is a possibility that manta rays and other large plankton feeders are accumulating these toxins in their tissues. Very limited information currently exists on the implications of microplastics on large marine plankton-feeders (Fossi et al. 2014), which often are species of economical and world-heritage importance, and its through this project I hope to contribute to closing this knowledge gap.

The main objectives of my research using a multi-disciplinary approach are to:
• To assess if the levels of marine debris in the form of microplastics in the water where manta rays and whale sharks are feeding and to quantify the amount.
• To determine if manta rays are ingesting plastic.
• To assess if manta rays are exposed to plastic-associated toxins and to what levels.
• To raise awareness of the implications of plastic marine debris on manta rays and other plankton-feeding elasmobranchs with the aim of eliciting change in waste-management policies.

Peer reviewed Publications

Germanov E, Marshall A. 2014. Running the gauntlet: regional movement patterns of M. alfredi through a complex of parks and fisheries. PLOS One. 9(10):e110071

Cullen R, Germanov E, Shimaoka T, Johnston B. 2009.Enhanced tumor metastasis in response to blockade of the chemokine receptor CXCR6 is overcome by NKT cell activation. J Immunol. 183(9):5807-15.

Germanov E, Veinotte L, Cullen R, Chamberlain E, Butcher EC, and Johnston B. 2008. Critical role for the chemokine receptor CXCR6 in homeostasis and activation of CD1d-restricted NKT cells . J.Immunol. 181(1):81-91.

Germanov E, Berman JN, and Guernsey DL. 2006.Current and future approaches for the therapeutic targeting of metastasis (review) . Int.J.Mol.Med. 18(6):1025-36.

Conference proceedings

Germanov E & Marshall A. 2015. Running the Gauntlet: Regional Movement Patterns of Manta alfredi through a Complex of Parks and Fisheries. 2015 New Zealand Marine Science Society and Oceania Chondrichthyan Society Joint Meeting. Auckland, New Zealand (July 6-9, 2015). Platform presentation. Poster presentation.

Germanov E, Johnston B. 2006. CXCR6-deficient mice have altered NKT cell populations and exhibit increased susceptibility to tumor metastasis to the liver. 19th Ann. Spring Meeting of the Canadian Society for Immunology. Halifax, Canada (June 9-12, 2006). Platform presentation. Poster presentation.

Johnston B, Germanov E. 2006. CXCR6-deficient mice have altered NKT cell populations and exhibit increased susceptibility to tumor metastasis to the liver. J. Immunol. 176:S265. Ann. Meeting of the American Association of Immunologists. Boston, USA. (May 12-16, 2006). Poster presentation.

Germanov E, Johnston B. 2005. CXCR6-deficient mice are deficient in NKT cells and susceptible to tumor metastasis. Nova Scotia Cancer Research Symposium, Halifax, Canada. (Nov 09, 2005). Poster presentation.

Research Experience

March 2014 – Present
Manta Matcher Regional Manager & Volunteer
Marine Megafauna Foundation , International
Director: Dr. A. Marshall

Project: [Manta Matcher] regional database management and data analysis for population estimates, migrations and conservation initiatives.

September 2008 – October 2009
Research Assistant (Master’s level)
Department of Biochemistry, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
Principal Investigator: Dr. W. Muller

Project: Elucidating proto-oncogene ErbB2 signaling pathways.

September 2004 – September 2006
Graduate Student
Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada
Supervisor: Dr. B. Johnson

Project: Immune system trafficking in protection from tumor spread.

May 2003 – April 2004
Undergraduate Student
Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada
Supervisor: Dr. J. Marshall

Project: Immune system role in promoting blood and lymphatic vessel generation.

May – August 2002
Research Assistant (Undergraduate level)
Department of Basic Sciences, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St.John’s, Canada
Principal Investigator: Dr. T. Michalak

Project: Hepatitis infection in a woodchuck model.

May – August 2001
Research Assistant (Undergraduate level)
Department of Biology, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St.John’s, Canada
Principal Investigator: Dr. D. Innes

Project: Genetic and morphological characterization of mussels Mytilus edulis and M. trossulus.

Relevant Work Experience

September 2011– February 2015
PADI SCUBA Instructor & Marketing Director
Dive Komodo , Komodo/Flores, Indonesia

June 2013 – February 2014
Regional Manager
Manta Watch, International

September 2013 – October 2013
Dive Safety Officer
Manta Watch, International

October 2009 – August 2011
PADI Instructor & Dive Operations Manager
Malaysia and Indonesia

Teaching Experience

December 2006-Decemeber 2007
Middle School Science Teacher
EG School, Bundang, South Korea

January 2002 – April 2005
Teaching Assistant
Departments of Biology and Microbiology & Immunology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada

SCUBA and Field Training

March 2014
Reef Check EcoGuide Trainer Course, Reef Check Indonesia
Labuan Bajo, Flores, Indonesia
Course Director: Jensi Sartin

July 2010-August 2010
PADI SCUBA and EFR Instructor Development Course, Flora Bay Divers,
P.Perhentian Besar, Peninsular Malaysia
Course Director: Azman Sulaiman, PADI# CD64038

November 2009-December 2009
PADI SCUBA Divemaster Internship
Billabong Scuba, P.Mabul, Sabah, Malaysian Borneo
Instructor: Christina Grabowsky, PADI# 493120

Prof. Neil Loneragan, Murdoch University, Australia
Dr. Andrea Marshall, Marine Megafauna Foundation

Prof. Lars Bejder, Murdoch University, Australia
Aquatic Alliance

Funded by:
Ocean Park Conservation Fund Hong Kong
PADI Foundation
Idea Wild

Murdoch University Cetacean Research Unit (MUCRU)
Centre for Fish and Fisheries Research
Faculty of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Murdoch University
South Street, Murdoch, 6150
Western Australia
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