Passionate diver and wildlife conservation volunteer, Pamela S. Turner, 54, is the author behind children’s book Project Seahorse. Pamela started writing when she lived in Japan and had her first book, Hachiko, published in 2004.
During her lifetime she has also resided in Kenya, the Marshall Islands, South Africa, the Philippines and currently California. She has three children, all of whom were born in different countries.
As well as books she has written many science and nature articles for both adults and children. Project Seahorse is the sixth and latest addition to her collection of published children’s books.
Q: When did you first decide to write Project Seahorse?
A: It started with an article on seahorses that I wrote for National Wildlife, world edition. I have been a scuba diver for many years, and wanted to write something about coral reef conservation for kids. Seahorses have terrific appeal, they’re so weird and cute, I thought they would provide a compelling angle on the subject. I had already written two books in the Houghton Mifflin “Scientists in the Field” series (Gorilla Doctors and The Frog Scientist) and my editor loved the idea of mixing marine biology and development issues.
Q: How would you describe the book?
A: Project Seahorse brings readers to the Philippines for a look at an innovative coral reef conservation program to help seahorses and the local fishing families that depend on the sea for their livelihoods.
Q: Where did the idea come from?
A: I’ve been a scuba diver for over 25 years, and was dying to do a wet-and-salty sort of book! A seahorse is an animal everyone recognizes and most people have sympathy for, so it was a good fit.
“Spending time with local fishing families and seeing how traditional fishing is done was the biggest thrill for me. Digoy, the Filipino fisher who demonstrated his technique, was a world-class breath-holder!”
Q: What was your main aim when producing it?
A: My main aim was to make children care about seahorses, coral reefs, and the people of the Philippines.
Q: How did you obtain the information?
A: I read many, many scientific papers by Amanda Vincent and other seahorse scientists, and I visited the Philippines with Amanda and her colleagues to see the project first-hand.
Q: What are the most interesting things you learnt whilst creating Project Seahorse?
A: I already knew a fair amount about marine protected areas and seahorses. Spending time with local fishing families and seeing how traditional fishing is done was the biggest thrill for me. Digoy, the Filipino fisher who demonstrated his technique, was a world-class breath-holder!
Q: Have you always been interested in marine life?
A: I grew up in Southern California and got my scuba diving certification in 1984. I think the great thing about diving is how close you can get, safely, to all sorts of animals. My diving has definitely inspired my writing. In addition to Project Seahorse, I wrote Prowling the Seas, about a high-tech tagging project that includes leatherback turtles, white sharks, bluefin tuna, and sooty shearwaters, a species of seabird.
Q: Who did you work with?
A: Amanda Vincent, Heather Koldewey, Amando Blanco, and many other members of Project Seahorse. The wonderful photos were taken by Scott Tuason, an amazingly talented photographer based in Manila.
Q: How long did it take to publish – from the idea to going to print?
A: The whole process took several years. We had to find a good time for me to visit the Philippines, and then the design and printing process takes many months, even after the text is finished.
Q: Who is it aimed at, simply children or for anyone?
A: Although Project Seahorse is a children’s book, targeted at readers aged 9 to 12, I think any adult who wants to learn more about coral reef conservation, and particularly marine protected areas, will come away satisfied.
Q: What reactions have you had from readers so far?
A: I’ve had many lovely reviews from professionals, for example librarians and teachers, as well as kids who are quite taken by the subject and amazed by the underwater pictures.
Q: Any more plans for books on the cards?
A: Right now I’m working on a new “Scientists in the Field” book, Dolphins of Shark Bay, about wild bottlenose dolphins in Australia, coming in Autumn 2013.