Shane Van Dyjk surveying

Faces of Avisure – Shane Van Dijk

Working in the aviation industry, what’s your favourite aircraft?

My favourite aircraft is, without a doubt, the Lockheed P-3 Orion. My family home is near the RAAF Base in South Australia, barely a couple of kilometres away from the airfield, so I would often see them from the front porch, conducting circuits at all hours of the day. Watching this aircraft conduct tight, high-G turns and vertical climbs had me entranced and amazed that an aircraft of this size was able to be thrown around like a fighter. It is truly an incredible piece of engineering. Ironically, I would eventually go onto work at the same base as an aviation firefighter for 15 years, enabling me to see the aircraft from a different perspective.

What path brought you to Avisure?

During the latter stage of my firefighting career, I completed an environmental science degree with the intention of eventually moving into an entirely new career stream. Several months after my graduation in 2015, the opportunity to pursue a career with Avisure as a wildlife biologist/wildlife management officer presented itself, and I haven’t looked back.

What’s your favourite part of the job?

Moving to the Gippsland region offered me a chance to enjoy an array of habitats and land uses different to anything I had experienced before. The vast network of Ramsar-listed wetlands nestled between the Victorian Alps and lower lakes has been a joy to explore. Periodically surveying the sites for our project quickly became my favourite part of the job. It is a species-rich region with many migratory birds like terns, stilts and sand piper species passing through at different times of the year.

What are your favourite wildlife species and why?

My favourite species of bird is the white-winged chough. I have spent countless hours in the local pine plantations just sitting and watching a family group, often called a chattering (or clattering), forage and interact with each other. Their varied, and sometimes haunting, calls are the sounds I consider to be most typical of the sclerophyll forests of southern Australia. But birds aside, my favourite animals are the sea dragons of Australia’s temperate coastal waters. My unchecked bucket-list wish is to be able to watch, in real-time, juvenile leafy sea-dragons emerging from their eggs.

What do you do when you’re not working?

There aren’t too many diving opportunities to be had close to home, but I spend a little time helping out the local wildlife rescue organisations, taking animals from carers to vets, or to release sites after they’ve recovered from injury. I have also been fortunate enough to be able to sit on a local coastal management board charged with managing the foreshore at Loch Sport, a small holiday village near the edge of the Gippsland Lakes National Park.

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