The ocean has always been something I’ve been drawn to, as a kid it was my favorite place, and still is of course. Something about it made me feel adventurous, like being around it was where I was always meant to be. My parents said I was hardwired to be a marine biologist, it's all I talked about, thought about, wanted to learn, and wanted to be a part of. I grew up in North Carolina as a baby, and even then I wasn’t shy about wanting to go in the water. My mom would carry me or walk me to the shore and she said I always had a smile. As I got older, I only began to love, respect, and appreciate the ocean and its animals more and more, specifically I was fascinated by sharks. I couldn’t exactly tell you why, was it the grace in which they swim and the power you can feel that they hold? Was it the sympathy I felt when looking into their eyes and not seeing a monster, but seeing God's beautiful creation. A strong, powerful, misunderstood, creature that held so much knowledge to unfold.
In some ways I related to them regarding them being misunderstood and mistreated. Life is never easy, and you will always encounter people that will tear you down, but there are those who love and want to protect you. In this way, sharks and I were connected. I could look into their eyes and feel their gaze, it's one of my favorite things to be able to do. Making a connection and in some ways, a bond, with an animal is like no other. I was 5 years old when my mom put on shark week for the first time. I never sat on the couch, I sat on the floor, as close as I could to the TV and just watched in awe. A particular episode came on that week about shark finning, and I remember watching something that I thought was so cool and something I loved being hurt in front of me. I felt so saddened at that moment, but then it panned to a marine biologist who was fighting to stop the fin trade. My mom looked at me and I looked at her and said “That's what I'm going to be when I grow up.” That statement continues to be true today and is something I am continually working towards.
Instagram & Twitter: @newtideshannah
I have always had a passion when it comes to learning more about marine life and how each aspect plays a role in the surrounding environment. I grew up living near freshwater ecosystems and wanted to expand my knowledge towards the ocean by gaining as much information as I possibly could while falling head over heels with everything I've been exposed to.
I have had the pleasure working with aquatic organisms maintaining husbandry regulations and life support system operations, working for the EPA representing Texas for the National Lakes Assessment of 2022 traveling to lakes all around the state collecting water quality samples, participating in rescue/rehabilitation efforts for several species of sea turtles both in the field and hospital settings, and conducting voluntary research by participating in shore surveys and maintaining data of bottlenose dolphins within ship channels studying their behavior and monitoring their movements.
The next step on my journey is to conduct research towards Elasmobranchs (sharks, skates, and rays) by understanding their physiology, ecology, and/or monitor their movement patterns to then help maintain nursey habitats. I have always had a passion when it came to studying elasmobranchs but used to believe it to be an impossible journey. I refuse to let this hold me back and will continue forward by studying my dream organisms. I have felt that they have always been misjudged and unrecognized towards their importance in several ecosystems. Understanding them for who they are and how they are involved in their surrounding environments, helped me form a personal connection. I know what its like to not belong in a popular crowd of interest and when I was first exposed to the scientific knowledge towards sharks and rays, I knew instantly what I wanted to place my passion and interests towards.
I plan to stay involved with as many opportunities as possible to reach my goals and gain as much knowledge as I can. I will never turn down a chance to learn more about the ocean even if its not specifically studying elasmobranchs. By having the recognition towards the relations and roles for other organisms that can then lead to a better understanding of formed connections involving elasmobranchs for an overall success rate.
My interest in my Marine Biology and Marine Fisheries double degree dates to when I was a child. Throughout my life, I have spent a tremendous time on the Texas coast. Seeing mounds of trash on our beaches, I was always aware of the human effects on the oceans, and it astounded me how ignorant people could be to the world around them. This interest in learning about environmental conservancy for not only the planet, but the oceans, have led me to the position I am in today. As of recent, I have become fascinated with marine invertebrates and botany. Biology and chemistry have always been my passion, so knowing what makes up ecosystems to the molecular level captivates me.
In high school, I always felt discouraged to pursue Marine Biology. Whether it be discouragement from peers or online, it did not seem like a plausible future. However, everyday I am thankful that I decided to go to university for it and follow my aspirations. I pursued and have been greeted with many amazing opportunities that I will always be appreciative of.
Currently I volunteer in a Phytoplankton Dynamics lab on the Texas A&M Galveston campus. I monitor harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) in Galveston Bay through our Imaging FlowCytobot (IFCB). The IFCB uses a combination of flow cytometric and video technology to capture high resolution images of suspended particles. The process involves collecting specimen samples, filtering for Chlorophyll-a, focusing images captured on the IFCB, and evaluating these images of phytoplankton cells to determine the presence of HABs. I also have experience on campus with marine animal husbandry, life support systems, and water quality through the on campus Sea Life facility.
In my future career, I would love to be involved in ecological research, invertebrate zoology, or fisheries management.
My life in the ocean sciences officially started when I was 12 years old and was certified with my PADI Junior Open Water SCUBA certification. Although I had always loved being in the water and the life that was moving around inside of it, becoming a scuba diver made me turn the marine life into my career. In the past 8 years, I earned my adult Open Water certification, Advanced Open Water certification, and Rescue Scuba Diver certification. Throughout this journey, I fell more in love with the ocean than I ever thought I could.
As I continue my journey in my marine biology career, sharing what I know is something I love to do.
As a scientist with chronic illnesses, I also love spreading awareness for those with disabilities in STEM.
New Tides Conservation was created in 2017 and serves as a blog and shop dedicated to protecting and raising awareness to endangered species and their habitats. It is our goal to do all we can to protect the ocean and its animals, and educating others is the best place to start. Hannah Richey was once interviewed by friends at Shark Allies for an Earth Day advocate article and was asked the question “If you could make one change in the world, what would it be and why?” Her response was as quoted: If I had to choose one change that I believe would make an impact on the world, it would be to change the hearts of the people towards the environment and animals. In regards to this statement I was referring to pollution, poaching, and any other harmful acts towards the planet or animals. I hoped to open their eyes to see the importance of protecting endangered species and their homes. A simple change of heart is what I felt would be the one change I would make, in hopes we could come together and treat our plants, animals, and their habitats with kindness. My mom always told me my love for animals came from the heart and is why I'm so passionate about protecting them, so I believe the hearts of others is where we should start.” Everyone can make a difference, the world needs a change of heart and for its inhabitants to treat it with kindness. - Hannah Richey