My journey to Project Seahorse

By Roshni Mangar, MSc student

Since I can remember, I have been fascinated with the marine environment and all of the organisms on my island, Mauritius, and specifically the world of marine mammals. Over the years, my obsession with Orcas shifted to the complex relationships between humans and the ocean. These existing complex relationships kindled my desire to engage in marine policy. Specifically, learning to bridge the gap between actionable science and practical policies. The urge to delve more into this domain led me to Dr Amanda Vincent and her holistic approach to marine conservation. But before we get into my research, I want to tell you a little more about me.

I was born in Mauritius but ended up living in both India and Mauritius. I have an Indian mother and a Mauritian father (and amazing older sister), which gave me the opportunity to speak three languages growing up – English, French and Mauritian Creole. While growing up, all I can remember is writing stories about whales and dolphins, renting Free Willy and Flipper endlessly from the British Council, completing crossword puzzles on whale species, and staring eagerly at the ocean every weekend hoping to see a dolphin. My dreams as a child have now become my reality. But most of the credit goes to the endless sacrifices my mother and father made.

The marine biology dream led me to do my B.A. in Human Ecology at College of the Atlantic (COA). This was one of the best decisions I could have made. COA has a research station called Mount Desert Rock, a research island 25 miles offshore (3-acre island). And that was it – a lighthouse, 600 seals, over 100 gulls, humpbacks breaching during dinner, gannets dive-bombing, white-sided dolphins chasing bait balls, and the never-ending ocean, created one of the most peaceful experiences in my life. Over the years, I returned to the island to carry out research projects on harbour seals and humpback whales, and eventually became an assistant station manager. While COA gave me the tools and skills to be a researcher, it also taught me the meaning of friendship, community, and hard work.

At COA and post-graduation, my research focused on marine mammal conservation, coral reef restoration, oxidative stress responses in zebrafish, morphological crab defences, and krill biomass availability. In addition to my love for research is my fondness for teaching. I have worked as a marine science educator for a couple of years and have found it a fulfilling endeavour. My favourite was a student who said, “Roshni I was so scared of the ocean, but I am not scared anymore”. These experiences have also allowed me to travel and work in a variety of locations such as Maine (USA), Florida (USA), Massachusetts (USA), California (USA), Mauritius, Seychelles, and New Zealand. And now to add to the list of countries is Canada.

I am currently an MSc student at the University of British Columbia. I am working on the bottom trawling industry in Asia, specifically Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and India. I am keen to learn how to translate research into policy frameworks.

You can read more about my thesis project on the Institute of Oceans and Fisheries Website.