Salt Ecology


Leigh Stevens, Principal Scientist

It all started...

In Turkey, 1988. I was enjoying a swim in the calm, crystalline waters of the Anatolian coast. The salty water created a strong connection to my childhood playground, the distant waters of the Waitemata Harbour, where my affinity and respect for the world's oceans was first nurtured. As I left the water I realised that, compliments of a passing tanker that had emptied its bilges, I was coated in oily black tar balls. What started as a small personal hygiene and laundry dilemma grew into a full blown career shift. I left behind my degree in psychology and embarked on a new path encompassing marine science and environmental management - exploring the myriad ways in which humans impact and shape our world.   

Oil pollution has been a significant part of the journey, as has providing councils, government and industry with tools to monitor and manage the marine environment effectively. 

I spent time working in regional government, then a decade as a research scientist and consultant at the Cawthron Institute. There I undertook a wide range of ecological impact assessments (marine and freshwater) and was part of a team helping develop cost effective and robust tools to assess and monitor coastal and estuarine habitats. 

In 2006, I left to become a founding partner and senior scientist at Wriggle Coastal Management, where I forged a reputation for delivering high quality outputs that presented science in a clear and rigorous manner.  My specialist areas include GIS based habitat mapping, environmental monitoring, ecological risk assessments, oil spill contingency planning and response, and science communication.  

I have a proven track record of providing independent, unbiased expert ecological advice through effective liaison with stakeholders, councils, industry, and government agencies. I have also enjoyed contributing to national expert panel work such as developing a national objective framework for NZ estuaries.

In 2017, the time was right to establish Salt Ecology. This was driven by a desire to focus more on work areas where I feel I can really make a difference. I'm supported by a great team of people who share my passion for sustainability through community-driven environmental stewardship and are committed to practical and collaborative approaches to solving ecological issues.  

For the Environment. For the People

Mō Te Taiao. Mō Ngā Tāngata