Name: Kirsty Magson
Job Title: Marine Conservation Project Leader
Organisation: New Heaven Reef Conservation Program
- What inspired you to pursue a career in marine conservation?
For as long as I can remember I have wanted to be a marine biologist, growing up in the UK I would dream about the day I would be diving in coral reefs and saving sharks. Thankfully I have a very supportive family, so when I said I was leaving they were happy it was to follow my dreams.
- What steps did you take/are you taking to achieve your career goals?
Growing up I was always watching documentaries, reading articles and learning about different marine species and ecosystems. When it came for the time to head to university I picked a course that would allow a focus on the marine side of things whilst also allowing me to pursue my other interests such as herpetology. So I completed a Marine Biology/Zoology degree.
- How did you land your current job/position?
After graduating I came out to Thailand to join an internship program and then just stayed!
- Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?
Seeing the difference our courses make to divers, it provides a new perspective and a great alternative to your run of the mill fun dive. As well as enabling us to show them some of the coolest marine species and watch as they either fall in love with the sea, or fall even deeper for it.
- Are there aspects of your position which make you feel that you are really ‘making a difference’?
Seeing how student’s progress throughout the length of the course both in terms of their skills and their knowledge. Seeing the impact we have on the reef whether its removing coral predators, releasing baby turtles, restoring coral reefs, removing nets or monitoring the reefs through surveys. We are continuously pushing to make our reef ecosystem the best it can be with the help of our students.
- What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?
That it doesn’t take an army to make a difference, every action we take can make a difference no matter how small.
- Are there any skills you never thought you would need but did?
Freediving, tying knots, we are constantly learning and looking for new ways to improve current methods so the good thing with these things are that they are skills that can be learnt.
- What advice would you give to budding marine conservationists?
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, message conservation programs, message projects that you like and ask questions. Even if it is just for advice.
- What is your favourite marine creature and why?
This is a hard one as I have three, but the two that are closest to my heart are sharks and sea turtles. I run a whaleshark ID program here in Thailand and sharks were the first animal I fell in love with and over the years my love for them continues. Doesn’t matter on the species because everything about them I find so fascinating. With sea turtles I have been rearing them as part of a head start program for over 5 years and I love every second of it. Whether it’s the ones we are raised or the ones around the island they fascinate me (check out the oesophagus of a leatherback to find out one reason why), diving alongside real-life dinosaurs is pretty amazing.
- What is your most unforgettable moment in the sea?
When myself and a friend were snorkelling and came across a baby shark caught entangled on a fishing line and we were able to free it and watch it swim away. Talk about right place and right time and its certainly something I will never forget.
Thank you Kirsty, it’s been great to get your insight into such a rewarding career. You can apply to join the New Heaven Reef Conservation Program here.