Amanda Vincent – Savior of Seahorses – 2020 Indianapolis Prize Finalist

Amanda Vincent. Photo by Andaya Vincent

Prof. Amanda Vincent became the first biologist to study seahorses underwater in 1986. Ever since, she has been the leading authority on the ecology and conservation of seahorses and a protector of marine life. In 1996, Amanda co-founded and still directs Project Seahorse, an international organization committed to conservation and sustainable use of the world’s coastal marine ecosystems. Project Seahorse undertakes biological and social research, empowers local communities, establishes marine protected areas, manages small-scale fisheries, restructures international trade, promotes integrated policy, and advances environmental understanding. Amanda was a Finalist for the Indianapolis Prize in 2010 and 2016 (links to videos).

What advice do you have for people who want to make a difference in animal conservation, but don’t know how?

“If you are new to conservation, look around you, spot upbeat people/groups whose work inspires or impresses you and offer to help. Start with local issues and be willing to do what’s needed. Keep your mind wide open and focus on the health of the population or species or habitat. Participate in community forums, newsletters and events. Find reasons for optimism, as nobody needs to feel or hear any more gloom.

What makes you most hopeful for the future of animal conservation?

“Every person I’ve ever met was happy to hear a bit about seahorses. There’s our starting point, curiosity that can be converted to commitment. Our biggest hope lies in reaching into people’s hearts and guts with our stories on animals (and plants), what they mean to us and what they need from us. Every story needs to end with ‘…and that’s what you can do to help, now.’ Many more people must care enough to take action. I invite the arts, industry and religion to help mobilize and advance such interest and to prompt reluctant governments to safeguard life on Earth.”

What was your reaction when you learned you were a 2020 Indianapolis Prize Finalist? How does it feel to be one of the world’s top conservationists?

“I’m so delighted to have the opportunity to highlight the need for vastly more attention to the ocean and marine life. The ocean represents 99 percent of the living space on Earth yet is very ‘other’ to most people. I am determined that our work on the quirky seahorses should bring attention to the opportunities for the ocean: end bottom trawling, stop illegal fishing, protect habitats and address climate change. I’m hugely conscious of how much needs to be done and very enthusiastic about doing it.”