Inspiring the Next Generation of Ocean Leadership

Laura in Mexico

G.U.L.F. Research Assistant, Laura Picariello

Earlier this month our research assistant, Laura Picariello, took a trip to Baja California, Mexico to assist the Marine Biology Field Program run through Glendale College, CA. As part of the summer Marine Biology course, students spend two weeks in the small coastal fishing village of Bahia de los Angeles on the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez) learning about marine science and conservation.

Bahia 7 (2)


The land and waters surrounding Bahia de los Angeles are protected as part of a Biosphere Reserve established by the Mexican president in 2007. This area is also an UNESCO world heritage site. Among their daily field activities, students spent time out on the water with local fishermen, talking with them about their work and the waters they fish from. Students also met with CONANP (Comision Nacional de Areas Naturales Protegidas- National Commission of Natural Protected Areas) representatives who responsible for monitoring and maintaining the marine protected area. The protection of this area is not only crucial to ensuring populations of commercially important fish for the area thrive, it is also a haven for the charismatic whale shark (Rhincodon typus). Students got the amazing opportunity to get up close and personal with the largest fish in the sea.

whale shark (charlie)

Photo Credit: Charles Harmer

During Laura’s time in Mexico, she spoke with students about the importance of sustainability in our use of ocean resources. What does sustainability in seafood mean? How are fisheries managed to ensure that fish and shellfish populations are available for future generations? What are the challenges of managing warm-water fisheries versus managing cold-water fisheries? Laura introduced students to the UN FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, the US Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation Act and the importance of supporting local, US managed seafood products. These topics are complicated, and the questions are not easily answered. At G.U.L.F. we challenge the next generation of marine scientists, fisheries biologists, and conservation enthusiasts to tackle these questions head on, and be the next generation of ocean leaders.


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