KAREN HOLLOWAY-ADKINS, PhD
Lead Research Biologist
MARIO MOTA, PhD
December 10, 1974 - March 30, 2022
How do you write the parting words that you never wanted to ever write for your very best friend? I’ve been searching for words or, honestly, the will to put words to paper for something I hoped I’d never have to do…. say goodbye to my very dear friend, Shannon Hackett-Rainbolt. We officially met back in 2001, doing sea turtle work, of course(!), on the beaches at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC). We found many strong common threads in our lives but the biggest one was our love of the underwater world. We could spend hours following the signs of a potential octopus den, playing shell games with jawfish blennies, peeking in crevices and under ledges for cryptic sea creature species. We loved to see how stealth we could be around a green, loggerhead, hawksbill, or, on one occasion, a rare Kemp’s ridley sea turtle - just so we could enjoy their presence longer without disturbing them. We had an uncanny way of reading each other’s minds underwater. We always seemed to end up with the same air consumption. We were weird like that – so in tune with each other. We had so much fun together.
Just a couple years since our first work on the KSC beaches with Mario Mota, Shannon came to do some part-time work with East Coast Biologists, Inc. (ECB, our non-profit) - doing lighting surveys at Patrick Air Force Base, helping with green turtle foraging samples, and volunteering when we were catching juvenile green turtles. She became a member of the Board of Directors for ECB. She supported our outreach programs and was a genuine sea turtle and ‘all things underwater’ advocate. Her passion and love did not stop there – she loved the terrestrial critters too (snakes, lizards, tortoises, ducks) and even had a hand in wildlife rescues. She even raised a Florida duck from an egg we found floating on a raft in our pool! As long as she could, Shannon worked full-time for St. John’s River Water Management District doing water quality and seagrass monitoring. Shannon loved working in the Indian River Lagoon. She really cared about the status of the environment and conscientiously tried in her everyday life to make this world a better place. The world needs more Shannon Hacketts. There’s a huge hole in the lives of those of us who knew and loved her. I’m not sure that will ever go away. Rest in the sea and swim in the ocean, my friend – not a day goes by that I don’t think and miss your bright shining presence. We hold you forever in our hearts.
Your friend always, Karen.