Elissa Sursara
wildlife biologist, science writer

I was born in Sydney in an inner-city hospital, far from the beach and the coastal town I would later call my home. Growing up, I loved animals, from our family dog to passing birds and even our backyard insects. As a kid, I would catch all kinds of lizards and flies, housing them for a moment in plastic containers until I had finished studying and sketching their parts. My love of biodiversity was obvious to those around me, and it soon became a defining part of my person and my life.

I started my journey in environmental activism early on by attending my first protest at thirteen or fourteen years of age. The group I joined was advocating against the opening of a fur store in Sydney's QVB. I had learned of the atrocities of fur farming and felt strongly in opposing the operation. Our protest group had no permit, some were arrested, and upon my very late return home, I was swiftly grounded. Later, my family would tell me they were proud of my actions and encouraged me to continue my vocal opposition to things I perceived as injustices. It was then that I became a young environmental campaigner and started my career in science and activism.

At university, I studied science (biology, zoology, evolutionary biology and environmental management) at the Australian National University (ANU) and Macquarie University (MQ) respectively.

Later, at the end of my study, I joined an anti-whaling group and spent two summers patrolling the Southern Ocean as a deckhand and quartermaster in the depths of the Antarctic. It was the first time I saw wild orca, penguins and snow. It was also the first time I saw a whaling fleet harpoon a minke under the guise of scientific research. It the first time I drew real-world connections between the destruction of the environment and the growth of a corporate planet.

I later returned to the southern most continent as a researcher, helping to study penguin populations and water micro-plasticity in various Antarctic zones. Today, I continue my work as a researcher, science writer, social commentator and environmentalist.

I am interested in the environment, equality, and telling the stories of threatened species and habitats. I am the ambassador for several organisations, including 1% for the Planet, Earth Hour, Greenpeace and the Australia Zoo 'Wildlife Warriors'.  

I am currently pursuing higher study in the research field of micro plastic. I am particularly interested in polar biodiversity (Antarctic, Arctic), evolutionary morphology and human-wildlife conflict management, including the non-fatal mitigation of invasive animals, water conservation and the management of deforestation.

I am a big fan of Jeff Golblum, Bill Murray, David Attenborough and Chris Hitchens. I like pizza, the Arctic Monkeys, collecting old books, photography and drinking a glass of chilled Pinot whilst Seinfeld and FRIENDS plays on loop. 

For general enquiries