Mert Gokalp is a marine-biologist and underwater documentary specialist based in Istanbul. He graduated from Middle East Technical University, studied MSc. in Miami University Marine Sciences, and marine biotechnology at Ankara University. He started working on sponges during his MSc study. Previously, he worked in two European Union Projects (5th frame) Sponges & (6th frame) Special on the subject of sustainable use of marine resources. He is currently continuing his PhD (BiogenINK Project) in the Wageningen University of Netherlands, in the Marine Animal Ecology Department. Sponge collagen is the main target of the European project BiogenINK, which overarches his PhD project. BiogenInk aims the development of bio-inspired inks for 3D printing of scaffolds for tissue engineering based on sponge collagen. The project involves field experiments in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, southern coast of Turkey, to determine bacterial clearance rates & filtration efficiencies of sponges in different depths and pollution conditions for the purpose of eliminating fish farm & urban waste. The project also aims to assess the biological performances of two Mediterranean sponge species under different eutrophication and depth conditions to investigate their aquaculture potential and pollution remediation efficiency at pristine and organically polluted sites. Species-specific culture methods are optimized ultimately achieving a novel integrated fish-sponge farm model, which is self-cleaning and could maximize production of high quality raw sponge material.
He also worked in various advertisement projects & NGO promotional as director, photographer, DOP and UW cameraman. In 2011 he published a guidebook for marine species of Mediterranean Sea and produced a Marine Nature Guide, a smart phone application for marine species of Mediterranean Sea. He has 4 individual & 1 combined photography exhibitions. He is working as a freelance writer & nature photographer in MAGMA magazine since 2014. He directed award winning short film IRME-2014 (sponge divers of the Mediterranean Sea) & featured documentary Bluefish-2017 (story of an overharvested migratory fish of Istanbul). He is now working on a featured length documentary on coral reef restoration & climate change that will be released in 2020.