Ann Smith, one of the most loving and supportive fans of the CSTN, died suddenly just over a week ago. We are so sad.
Ann was there for the very first talks about whether Mike James, then a new graduate student, should take the risk of starting a thesis on leatherback turtles—a species that no one at that time could imagine actually came to Canadian waters with any regularity.
And from the beginning, Ann did the most important thing she could: She believed in us. Right away. She was always enthusiastic. “Now what’s up with the turtles?” she would ask each time we saw her—hundreds of times over the years. She would listen intently. She was genuinely delighted by our successes and had perspective on our challenges. “It will all work out,” she’d say.
Ann was one of the people to whom we most wanted to tell things. It was as though when she knew, those things were more complete somehow. Fully celebrated. Properly thought through. Firmly placed in the heart of someone who cared.
Sometimes conservation work can be lonely. Sometimes you can get lost in that feeling that all you are fighting for is in vain—strangled by entrenched ideas and apathy and politics and a lack of imagination.
The trick, of course, is to stay relentlessly positive. To focus on all that is extraordinary about sea turtles. To remember the many people who are also trying to help. To think of the ocean. To trust that honest, hard work will matter and be magnified. To believe that the world is ultimately full of more light than darkness.
Ann helped us do that, too.
We miss her.