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 Kate Downes

Kate Downes

PhD student


Kate Downes is a Marine & Fisheries Scientist for Ascension Island Government, working on the Darwin Initiative funded ‘Ascension Island Marine Sustainability (AIMS) project’. Kate’s main responsibilities on the AIMS project include conducting age/growth and reproductive biology studies on commercially important fish species, deployment of Archival satellite tags (PSAT) on yellowfin tuna and marine biodiversity surveys to monitor the inshore fish populations. 

Kate studied Marine Science at Falmouth Marine School which led to a BSc Environmental Science at Plymouth University.

Previous to moving to Ascension Island in October 2014, Kate has gained a vast amount of experience in the field of marine conservation, research diving and marine fauna identification, taking her all over the world from Cornwall (UK) to much warmer climes such as Tanzania, Cambodia and the Seychelles. Kate qualified as a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor in 2011 and gained her RYA II Powerboat the following year. She has also led marine education and awareness programmes for both children and adults, and is particularly passionate about building awareness, and support for, marine conservation and responsible fishing practices within local communities.

Broad research specialisms:

Fisheries biology (Fish ageing, Fish reproductive biology, Fish diet)


BSc Environmental Science


Research projects

Project Title: Observations on life history parameters and seasonal variation in diet of Yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) utilising Ascension Island’s waters.

Supervisors: Prof. Brendan Godley, Dr Annette Broderick, Dr Paul Brickle and Dr Judith Brown

Funding Body: Ascension Island Government (AIG) & South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute (SAERI)

Project Description:
Yellowfin tuna, Thunnus albacres, occur globally in tropical and sub-tropical oceans, supporting major fisheries throughout its range. Yellowfin tuna are known to frequent the Mid-Atlantic Island’s waters, where they support active recreational and commercial fisheries, however, there is no reported biological information on this species, from this area. This study provides the first information on age, growth, spawning seasonality, sexual maturity, retention at Ascension Island, diet analysis and seasonal variation in prey items consumed.


Nolan ET, Barnes DKA, Brown J, Downes K, Enderlein P, Gowland E, Hogg OT, Laptikhovsky V, Morley S, Richardson A, Sands CJ, Weber N, Weber S & Brickle P. (2016) Biological and physical characterisation of the seabed surrounding Ascension Island from 100-1000m., JMBA-01-16-SIAI-0025 (in press)

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