April and May is Stingray season here in Mallorca and a very important part of the year for us here at Asociacion Ondine.
The Mallorca Stingray Survey was our first fully funded and successfully executed project. Phase 2 is under construction!
I am doing a 2 part article to mark the return of the Stingrays to Mallorca with this simple guide on how to get something started from nothing and do some good!
My dad once told me if everyone in the world looked after his or her own backyard we would have a wonderful world to live in! This is fact of life we cannot ignore!
If this helps one person get marine research and conservation initiatives going in other parts of the world then its done its job!
This article was originally written for divers but we all know that sailors, fishermen, divers, surfers, kayakers and everyone else who loves the sea can get involved.
I hope you enjoy and learn a little from this article….
Conservation and Improving of local marine ecosystems.
As divers/ sailors and sea lovers we have the ability to enjoy many different and exciting ecosystems, but simply looking and enjoying is not enough these days. Gone are the days when Jaques Cousteau dived into the Mediterranean and was amazed by the variety of life, the majority of marine life in the Mediterranean has now disappeared due to overfishing, human development and pollution. This sad fact is not restricted to the Mediterranean, it is a world wide problem. Hence understanding, protecting and even improving local marine ecosystems should be on the top of every divers To Do list.
Who is responsible.
Ultimately YOU are responsible for the health of our Sea´s and Ocean´s.
As a diver, as a consumer and as a human being with a conscience. As a diver you receive many pleasures from enjoying time underwater such us photography, encounters with majestic whales and impressive sharks. Imagine the pleasures you would enjoy if you were involved in preserving and improving your local marine ecosystems. Don’t wait for governments to do anything. It is up to us, the worldwide diving community to get involved and make a difference.
Why is it so important.
Preserving our local marine ecosystems is beneficial to local communities both economically and socially. Healthy marine environments managed in a sustainable and practical way generate millions of dollars around the world annually. In fact, should you get to the stage of working with your local government, showing them the benefits of conservation in a financial sense may just be the key to get them involved. Show them the money! Socially and culturally the sea has been a huge influence in many parts of the world, a healthy sea. Allowing our sea´s and oceans to die a not so slow death is adding to the decline of centuries old sustainable cultural practices and limiting the social enjoyment of the sea. A dirty, un healthy sea is not inviting for anyone.
Understanding local ecosystems – science base
Any conservation project needs to be science based, dreams don’t work alone.
We need to have dreams and ideas to begin this process of global marine conservation; we need dreams and ideas at a local level with international attention that inspire more people to take more initiatives. These dreams and ideas must have a scientific base to them otherwise they lack the clarity and direction they require as well as lacking real beneficial objectives.
Importance of local experienced marine biologists.
The most important people you could possibly involve in any size marine research and conservation project are experienced local marine biologists, these people are imperative! You can be the best diver in the world with the best intentions in the world but without local knowledge and professional attitudes you will achieve very little in comparison.
Contact your local aquarium, local department of fisheries, local marine research facility and let them know what you have planned. If you don’t get the response you were after, then try again, you will eventually find someone who is interested in your project. With a scientific base and objectives with the best possible outcomes you will be building a base for success.
Utilizing and connecting with local authorities and scientific research centers.
Accumulated and shared knowledge is the way forward, starting from scratch in many circumstances is time consuming and counter productive, hence, connecting with your local scientific bodies is a must to succeed at studying and conserving local marine ecosystems. Most aquariums have a conservation department, most scientific institutes have a website and contact form, the hard work is gaining respect and having people open themselves and their knowledge to you. This does take a little time. If you have the drive and the stamina it will happen.
Merging science and the rest of us.
This is the key to large scale success, we need to bridge the gap between science and the community, we need to make science fun, interesting and most of all available to the masses. Involving volunteer divers in your projects will get people like you and me right in amongst the scientists as they work. Beginning the process of a larger understanding of science, which really is just understanding nature in detail.
Stay tuned for next months final stages of establishing a locally based marine research and conservation organization.