Dr. Heather Koldewey

Co-Founder and Field Conservation Manager, Project Seahorse
Senior Technical Advisor, Zoological Society of London

Ever since peering into rockpools as a small child, Heather has been fascinated by what lives in water. Following a BSc honours degree at the University of Plymouth, she completed a PhD (Genetics) at the University of Wales, Swansea.

In 1995, Heather began working for the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) as a postdoctoral research scientist, then as curator of the ZSL London Zoo Aquarium and currently as Senior Technical Advisor. Heather is also a Honorary Professor at the University of Exeter, Cornwall campus. To date, she has supervised 11 PhD students, 10 MSc students, published 50 peer-reviewed scientific papers and co-authored one book, two book chapters as well as many manuals and reports.


Phone: +44 (0)7767 408841
Email: heather.koldewey at zsl.org
Twitter: @heatherkoldewey

Heather finds solutions to many conservation challenges through interdisciplinary research and conservation action at the interface between communities and environment. Examples include a) co-founding Project Seahorse, which is recognised as the world’s leading authority on seahorses; b) developing Net-Works, an award-winning project that has developed a novel community-based supply chain for discarded fishing nets that are recycled into carpet tiles addressing issues of marine debris and poverty alleviation in coastal communities; c) co-ordinating the Bertarelli Programme of Marine Science, an interdisciplinary research and conservation programme for large marine reserves, focused on the Chagos Archipelago and d) leading the Our Sea Our Life project in northern Mozambique to improve the resilience of coastal ecosystems and community well-being.
Heather uses collaborative approaches to communicate and engage people in marine conservation, including Project Ocean – a partnership between the luxury London department store Selfridges and ZSL to bring ocean conservation to new audiences and change consumer buying habits, and One Less – a campaign to build a more ocean-friendly society through working to make London the first capital city to stop using single-use plastic water bottles. Finally, she is a Conservation Optimist and actively spreads that optimism (#oceanoptimism)!


PhD University College Swansea/University College London. Thesis: A genetic study of brown trout (Salmo trutta) populations in Welsh rivers.

BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences (Marine and Fish Biology), University of Plymouth (First Class Honours)

Research interests

  • Marine and freshwater conservation
  • Seahorse biology and genetics
  • Impact of the aquarium trade on wild populations of fish and aquatic invertebrates

Other experience

2018 January– present, National Geographic Fellow

2015 – present, Member: Calouste Gulbenkian Marine CoLABoration

2013 – present, Member: Pitcairn Environment Network

2013 – present, Member: IUCN Mangrove Specialist Group

2013 – present, Special Advisor: Oceano Azul Foundation

2012 – present, Member: Marine Reserves Coalition

2010 – present, Executive Committee: Chagos Conservation Trust

2009 – present, Member: Chagos Environment Network

[Updated 22 February 2022]

[Updated 12 July 2021]