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Meet Biologist, Author and Artist Dr. Sue Pillans

Updated: Feb 28, 2020

Dr Sue Pillans has always been drawn to the ocean and has many fond memories of going to the beach, snorkelling and interacting with nature as a child. Sue has been drawing and telling stories about the natural world since she was young and she grew up to become a marine scientist, artist and author who still loves sharing her stories through words and pictures in her creative communications business “Picture your ideas”.

Sue’s deep devotion for the ocean is also shared through her alter ego, Dr Suzie Starfish, who uses the art of marine science and storytelling to engage, excite, educate and empower children about the sea’s underwater wonders. In 2018 she published her first children’s picture book, “The Great Barrier Thief”, illustrating the impacts of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef. As part of her series of ocean education picture books Suzie’s next two books draw attention to the impacts of marine debris and the importance of diversity on the reef. As an author/illustrator Dr Suzie Starfish loves diving into environmental issues to bring the living oceans into the heARTs and minds of young readers.

You can dive into Sue’s ocean storytelling via her:

  • Website

  • @drsuziestarfish on Facebook

  • @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram

Dr. Pillans with a painting from her first kids picture book

1. What is your favorite shark and why?

Whale sharks! I love their giant size and gentle nature and there is nothing quite like swimming with the biggest shark in the sea!

2. What is one shark you would love to see/swim with?

It’s not a shark but a shark ray. I would love to see and swim with a shark ray as they are so beautiful and look like they are from the age of the dinosaurs.

3. What inspired you to take your marine science knowledge and experience and create artwork?

I have always been drawn to the ocean and I could ‘sea’ that pictures were so powerful when explaining my marine science stories as a scientist. So I combined my love of marine science and art to help communicate the important stories of the ocean and its underwater wonders.

4. Do you think art is important for conservation?

I think art through storytelling is very important to conservation if you want to genuinely communicate and engage with people. If people don’t care about the environment, the sharks or even know about the unusual creatures in the sea, why would they want to look after and protect them? Art helps to share these important stories so people ‘sea’ the beauty in nature.

5. What inspired you to start working with kids?

Sea-ing the kids eyes light up every time I talk about my ocean stories and the science of the sea is one of my biggest joys in the work that I do. I believe our children are our future ocean stewards so I use my science stories and artworks to engage, educate, excite and empower children.

6. What message do you hope people take from your programs and artwork?

My creative environmental education aims to reach the heARTs and minds of children and the community by using messages of science, solutions and hope that we CAN be the change we want to ‘sea’ in the world.

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