Talking Oceans is an organisation based in Colombia, dedicated to science and the conservation of tropical marine ecosystems. Our work is an interdisciplinary mix of marine ecology, conservation biology and sustainable development. We carry out research projects in coastal communities throughout Central and South America with the overarching aim of improving ocean health and local livelihoods.
More than a third of the world’s population live by the coast, and these coastal communities rely on healthy and productive marine ecosystems to support their livelihoods. Talking Oceans was founded upon the philosophy that communication will be the most powerful tool in battling declining ocean health through engaging and raising capacity of these communities to manage their local systems. Communicating the ocean’s most urgent issues, in the form of seminars and fieldtrips to schools, or to local communities who spend their life in the sea, is key for the conservation of our blue planet.
We are a team of passionate scientists with varied experiences from around the world. These diverse contexts have provided us with an integrated vision of marine sustainability and the work that needs to be done.
Our History & Mission:
Talking Oceans was established in 2011 in response to a lack awareness of marine issues in Latin America. Most marine advocacy and social networks communicating marine threats and conservation research is in English and does not reflect locally relevant themes. Our mission is to enhance the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity and resources in Latin American countries through the motivation of an environmentally conscious voting public to make informed choices and be capable of supporting crucial marine policy changes in their countries. Our main objective is to generate information of ecological and social relevance related to marine ecosystems, using scientific approaches and tools. Most importantly, we focus on engaging local people in science and research to enhance community conservation and resource management, and raise capacity in light of a changing climate.
Why is it important?
Scientists have shown that coastal communities in the tropics will be not only the first to suffer from the effects of climate change, but will also fare the worst, due to being the least prepared to adapt to the effects on natural systems and livelihoods.
Rising temperatures are changing the natural distribution of marine species up to 12 times faster than terrestrial species, pushing fish away from the warming tropical seas towards the poles. Some key sedentary organisms such as corals are not able to move away from rising temperatures, so suffer dramatic reduction in health as their life-sustaining symbiotic algae leach out of their tissues in what is known as bleaching – leaving only the white coral skeleton behind. Coral reefs support important fisheries in coastal communities, and so their demise signals the disappearance of important subsistence livelihoods based on the abundance of marine life they support.
Due to a lack of infrastructure and education in many of the rural and coastal areas where we work, communities face an uncertain future in the face of climate change (as we all do) as they lack the capacity or opportunities to leave their fishing boats behind and take up a new profession. Their traditions and their subsistence are built around the sea, so it is with these communities we must work most urgently, to provide crucial ecological information on how best to protect their marine resources, and build the capacity with which to deal with the coming times.
This is what drives and inspires us at Talking Oceans, and fuels our work helping tropical communities to adapt and increase their resilience.