A new chapter for me, and my future in conservation

In this introductory blog Adam Hicks, our new Masters student gives us some background on himself, and what he hopes to at Project Seahorse.
Mabul Island, Malaysia. Photo by Adam Hicks.

Who am I ?

In the last two years I have travelled, trekked and transformed my life. I never expected I would leave my job as an Ecologist in the United Kingdom and move to Canada, let alone study Seahorses but here we are so let’s get going.

The journey starts in Malaysia. After taking some time off to consider my options away from the United Kingdom, I spent three months travelling in some of the most breathtaking places I have ever been. I arrived in Mabul fresh faced and not quite sure to expect. I didn’t know then I would spend the next three months in a complicated paradise – learning about current local marine issues, including that of marine debris.

I came back to the United Kingdom with new friends, renewed vigour and a newfound purpose to get back into wildlife conservation. Graduate school was an obvious starting point and so I began searching for programmes far and wide. I had always had an interest in the Wildlife trade, and with my newfound experience in marine conservation, Dr Amanda Vincent interests seemed to match mine perfectly. Six months and many emails later – here I am at Project Seahorse, UBC.


What have I done?

As a wildlife biologist I have had many different experiences on my journey to this point. From looking at tropical frogs in Honduras before settling back in the United Kingdom and working on various projects and then heading to the ocean. On Mabul, my projects included surveying marine turtles and sharks, as well as running coral regeneration projects and helping design conservation presentations. We specifically focused on marine debris, and conducted reef and beach cleans to help protect the marine environment adjacent to the island. We also focused on community engagement programmes including waste management assistance and education programmes to promote sustainability on the island. My previous technical work combined with my experience in fieldwork should help me thrive at the University of British Columbia.

Plectrohyla dasypus, Cusuco Park Honduras, Fabian Mühlberger, (2015)

What do I hope to achieve at Project Seahorse?

I hope to be a valuable member of Project Seahorse and contribute to their already outstanding efforts as a forward-thinking marine conservation organization. I hope to gain academic and technical experience during my Master’s program and also learn how NGOs such as Project Seahorse work. Personally, I also hope not only to achieve academic results but also make new friends and have lots of great experiences especially in a place as beautiful as Vancouver.

My current academic interests are broadly centered on the international wildlife trade as well as the problems of fisheries bycatch. My geographical focus for seahorses is south-east Asia where many of the countries are hugely biodiverse but also under protected. I have spent time in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines and hope to conduct research in one of these areas.

Finally, I hope to use my studies as a springboard to further my education, to deliver effective conservation programmes, to develop an academic career, and to help protect areas of tropical biodiversity such as Mabul Island.