09 Jul What a summer!
Welcome to my final blog! it has been an exciting ride!
I am not going to lie and say that South Florida is the place I always saw myself grow as a person and a professional, especially because I am an emigrant and have moved constantly from one place to another. So I have accustomed myself to not get too attach to a place. However, nature had other plans…These four years of studying Ecosystem Science and Policy have showed me another South Florida that, when I first moved here, I had no idea existed. I have gotten to meet the real South Florida, and my love, care, and appreciation towards it is greater than ever. Especially, Biscayne Bay holds an special and important place in my heart, and it has begun to be part of who I consider myself to be now and who and what I want to do in the future. I want to defend, protect its vulnerability, and fight for its beautiful ecosystems.
Since my second year of college, after interning with a professor translating several video meetings and workshops about the Fisheries Management Plan created by Biscayne National Park and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, I have dreamt of working up close, contributing, and impacting the plan in some way. This internship was sent to me by a professor of ‘Conservation Science’, and being a dream come true, I applied. When I received the acceptance email, I cried in front of my whole ‘Quantitative Environmental Decision Making’ class! I could not believe it… everything that I have dreamt about, was right there, waiting for me.
And it has been everything I dreamt about and more…
Everything is connected...
Just one day in the bay will show you with no intentionality whatsoever the connectivity that environmental professors are always mentioning in class. It was not so long ago when I was in my Environmental Ethics class and my professor was talking about Aldo Leopold and his theory of the land pyramid, which suggests the undeniable dynamism, reliance, and connectivity between all the different levels of a pyramid that is composed by soil, plants, insects, herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores. He explained how human exploitative activities and over-pressing progress had interfered with the fluctuations of balance between the pyramid. One day at the bay working with sea turtles nests, creel surveys, and buoy monitoring showed me what he meant. The health of the bay is crucial for the survival of not only marine species, but also for many other animals such as birds and humans. The bay’s different ecosystems contribute to the balance of different species from small to big and from floras to faunas. This contribution also benefits our socio-economic infrastructure. An example is the seagrass. This flowering plant is essential for manatees and many other marine organisms’ survival, while supporting our local economy and trapping carbon by sedimentation. Another example is the importance of sea turtle nests. These contribute high levels of nutrients to the vegetation growing on beaches, which help prevent erosion. However, because of pollution from over-expanding urban and rural areas, and poor waste systems, the seagrass and the sea turtle nesting beaches within Biscayne Bay are unhealthy and vulnerable. It is important to restore and protect the bay to avoid worst and other future negative consequences.
Team work makes the dream work
An essential factor for restoring and further protecting Biscayne Bay is team work. I have realized that this fight is not designed only for scientists, conservationists, or politicians; interdisciplinary and team work is needed to achieve change and to avoid present and future mistakes and backlashes. Within the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Inventory and Monitoring Program they all work together and support each other. Everyone does a little or a lot of everything. From helping with drilling mooring buoys into the ocean floor, to doing creel surveys at the marina. It is incredible for me to experience the level of support, responsibility, and compromise this team has with the environment and with themselves. They have all left a hope marked in my mind and heart, and have given me a lifetime of optimism. I have learned that I am able to do anything I put my mind to and that nothing is truly impossible if you believe in yourself. I have so many real role models I look up to now! and that is exciting ! I have learnt to never give up in the fight to changing the narrative, and that nature is grateful. I also have learned that even if I cannot see immediate results to my effort, that it will make an impact and it will be felt. I feel thankful to have come every morning to work to the smell of ocean, to the view of immeasurable natural beauty, to the quit mornings of birdie’s sounds, especially of that northern mockingbird that I could see everyday through my window. I am thankful to have seen the real and crude situation of the bay, but to help doing meaningful work to restore it. There is nothing left for me to say, but that this internship has motivated me to NEVER GIVE UP, and that it has been and exciting and unforgettable ride!
I will never forget:
long walks from boat to and throughout Elliott Key finding sea turtle nests
sea turtle nesting monitoring at Elliott Key
educating fishers and being educated by them as well while doing creel surveys at the marinas
some mornings when the stillness of water was infinite
the northern mockingbird trying to get his spot back from an osprey
the beautiful rainbows
the friends I made