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  • Writer's pictureIntelliReefs NanoTech Team

"My Ocean Activism"

-Kat Hickey, Environmental Sustainability Director

“The only true spiritual experiences I’ve ever had have always been when I am at the sea."

"...When I am laying on my surfboard... after making it past the wave break, all alone and surrounded by the deep blue calm, aware of all the marine life bustling below me, this is when I feel the most at peace. A few years ago, I was freediving in Kauai and found a green sea turtle in a reef, and we swam around each other in circles, playing and studying one another until I physically couldn’t follow them anymore. It was one of the most magical experiences I have ever had. I felt like I met my spirit animal that day. Experiences like that contributed to my pursuit of marine conservation and science. I am deeply in love with the ocean, and I have a need to protect everything in the sea. After what I feel like was an initiation from this sea turtle and other marine creatures, I feel an even stronger obligation to help the marine community and I won’t give up, I can’t give up.”

Our newest team member Kat Hickey is an ocean activist and will be helping us with kelp identification, spreading what our team is accomplishing through social media, coral reef conservation project management, and more.

Kat has always had a thirst for knowledge in all things science and earth-related. Growing up in Utah, Kat always felt “land-trapped” taking every opportunity she could to drive her car down to the ocean in her high school years, even if it meant sleeping in her car to be near the beach. When at the ocean, Kat loves to surf, snorkel, find and identify seashells, and pick up trash at public beaches. When in Utah, she swims laps in her mermaid tail, surfs behind boats in mountain lakes, and identifies freshwater specimens in streams and rivers for fun.

Kat just graduated in the spring from the University of Utah with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Sustainability Studies with an emphasis on Air, Water, and Health, and a minor in Geography. She has had an intense drive to help the ocean for as long as she can remember, and in turn, has dedicated her life to doing everything she can to help save our seas. Kat volunteers with the Utah Sierra Club advocating to save local resources like the Great Salt Lake. She loves to attend protests and marches in downtown Salt Lake City with the Fridays for Future group and any organization fighting for our earth.

For her day job, she works in a biomolecular and toxicology laboratory helping to extract molecules from biohazardous human samples for testing. This small-scale science directly relates to her understanding of how coral reefs, though only covering 1% of the world’s marine habitat, can affect the entire ocean so heavily. The ocean is a massive laboratory and the things humans put in it have a snowball effect that can hurt the health of organisms such as coral polyps and kelp, which in turn hurt the health of the entire ocean ecosystem. Kat realized that pursuing the restoration and conservation of coral reefs would be one of the most impactful things she could do in her life mission to save the ocean. Welcome aboard Kat!

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