Island Times Blog

Emma Hickerson– 2014 Women Divers Hall of Fame Inductee

January 27th, 2014 by Angie |

Aloha once again, everyone! My name is Angie (aka. “Dr. Chippy”), and I’m the Director of Marine Science and Intern Coordinator for SeaTrek BVI. I am writing this blog in recognition and appreciation of our dear friend, SeaTrek supporter, FATHOMS guest lecturer, conservationist, educator, aquanaut, diver extraordinaire, AND 2014 inductee of the Women Divers Hall of Fame – Ms. Emma Hickerson


(pictured here on the left with me on the right, wearing a hat.)

Before we get to her most recent accolade – which is seriously one of the coolest things ever if you’re into diving and ocean research and conservation and such –  let’s begin with a little SeaTrek-related history. Capt. Monk has known Emma for over 20 years…can you imagine that? Emma probably knew him when he had hair! And, yes, before I get into trouble with my Texan buddies out there – they worked together in Texas so of course, they are already super wonderful and amazing for that fact alone J J. Anyway, as the story goes, they used to “gently wrangle” 500 pound loggerhead turtles from the depths of the Gulf of Mexico. Emma designed a special (and large) purse-type net that they used to capture the turtles and slowly bring them to the surface so that they could collect information for her NOAA research. We’ve even got video of Monk to prove it. Wow…I can only imagine!

Fast forward to 2011 and the first FATHOMS voyage. I was stressing a bit about how we was going to pull this whole new science/conservation/service program off.  Then Capt. Monk sent me an email telling me to get in touch with Emma. He didn’t say much about her or all the really cool projects they had worked on in Texas, but he did say that she would likely be willing to come aboard as a guest lecturer and assist us for a week or so. Heck yeah, I thought …that sounds great! So, before I reached out to her I did a little online research and oh my goodness – I thought, this lady is the real deal. Wow! I couldn’t believe how much experience she had and the career she had worked to create. And of course I got a little nervous about talking to her and asking her if she could take time away from her busy schedule to join us on our FATHOMS voyage. However, after talking to her for just a few minutes, her sincerity and passion for the ocean put me at ease and reassured me. She was on board and was very much looking forward to the opportunity. Once on the voyage, it didn’t take long for me to see that Emma was EXACTLY what we needed for that inaugural FATHOMS voyage. And the students felt it too. She brought so much to the program. Her knowledge, enthusiasm, experience, and passion for ocean research, education, and conservation were an inspiration to us all.

As you can probably imagine, I could go on and on about how much we at SeaTrek appreciate Emma. But I’ll go ahead and conclude here with a very big THANK YOU, EMMA! We love and appreciate you and are so proud of you for being inducted into the Women Divers Hall of Fame…and for being an important part of SeaTrek. If you want to find out more about Emma’s work and see some photos of her in action as the Research Coordinator for the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sancturary (FGBNMS), you can go to the FGBNMS Facebook page. Or go to the home page for the FGBNMS.

 And in Emma’s own words, here’s the bio she provided for our FATHOMS voyages:

I was born in Sydney, Australia, but have spent half of my life in Texas.   I have held the position of Research Coordinator of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary since 1997.  I began my career at the Sanctuary while still a graduate student  conducting satellite tracking studies on loggerhead sea turtles living on the reef. I received my Bachelor of Science in 1993, and my Master of Science in 2000 from Texas A&M University.  During my tenure in the current position with the Sanctuary, I have coordinated or participated in over 150 research cruises, including SCUBA, ROV, and submersible operations.  I have logged over 1200 SCUBA dives, and a handful of submersible dives – as the pilot. My interests have expanded beyond sea turtles, to include most ecological and biological aspects of coral reefs, with recent efforts being placed on the deepwater habitats of the Sanctuary, and adjacent areas. I have also saturated at the Aquarius underwater habitat for a week, tagging and tracking grouper and parrotfish. I enjoy underwater videography and photography, and take every opportunity to integrate this interest into the development of scientific interpretive material.”

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