Introduction 2014

The interdependence of human society and the ocean is a theme that encompasses global environmental, political, and social policy and practice. The ocean provides goods and services that benefit all humanity, from the rich protein of fish to biodiversity and carbon storage. Yet our conceptions of the “renewable” water cycle and that there are “always more fish in the sea” lead us to overfish and pollute our oceans. As coastlines worldwide urbanize and increase pressure on our limited marine resources, we will need new and innovative strategies to balance conservation, industrial and commercial activities, and recreational activities in these environments.

I am a PhD Student of Environmental Economics at Duke University, the Nicholas School of the Environment. I just received my Master’s in Environmental Science from the Yale School of Forestry and I hold a B.S. in Economics and B.A. from Tulane – not the typical degrees for environmental conservation.  My research focuses on resource economics, where I investigate sustainable strategies for coastal development and conservation, where conflicting uses of limited resources lie at the intersection of conservation, tourism, and industrial activities.

My recent Master’s research focused on marine mammal conservation and wildlife viewing tourism in Peninsula Valdes, Argentina. As a child, I would visit my grandparents in Buenos Aires every Christmas to enjoy the austral summer. As I grew older, I strove to maintain my Argentine heritage by studying Spanish, cooking traditional foods, and eventually studying abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

It was in the austral spring of 2010 that I discovered a marine paradise on the windy Patagonian coast of the Peninsula Valdes World Heritage site in Argentina. A dry and shrubby land of guanacos and penguins juxtaposed against turquoise ocean waters filled with southern right whales. This Patagonian adventure shifted my undergraduate focus towards environmental management and pushed me to pursue a Master’s degree in Environmental Science (focus: resource economics) at Yale University.

In the summer of 2013, I fulfilled a three year goal to return to Peninsula Valdes and survey tourists on their wildlife viewing preferences and motivations for visiting the site, and the expenditures incurred to realize the trip. With these surveys, I hope to demonstrate the local, national, and international economic and social importance of marine mammal conservation in this region.

In addition to my academic work, I am also a PADI Dive Master and the acting U.S. Coordinator for Cousteau Divers, non-profit aimed at training divers to become citizen scientists and aid in the monitoring of marine ecosystems worldwide. I work with students at the Canterbury School in Saint Petersburg, Florida and trained divers on a special expedition to the Galapagos Islands last year.

This blog is a platform for sharing photographs, tales of adventure, and economic insights to marine conservation issues and fascinating marine ecosystems. In 2012 – 2013, I traveled to the Galapagos Islands, Patagonia, Argentina, and the Gulf of Mexico. In 2014, I hope to document further travels in Patagonia, the Caribbean, and Gulf Coast of the United States. I hope this blog not only shares my stories, but also serves as a resource for anyone aspiring to make a more positive impact on our oceans.

Bottazzi Whale Watch

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