Silliman University-Institute of Environmental and Marine Sciences, Philippines
Marine Mammal Researcher
Growing up in a land-locked area has not deterred me to test the water but rather kept the curiosity of what lies in the marine environment. My first encounter with cetaceans was during a boat trip after days of hiking the mountains. The dolphins surfaced close to our small boat (an outrigger as we call it back home), porpoising for several minutes. I was amazed, couldn’t figure out first what they were, and kept staring at them until they swam away from our boat. I guess that’s why we call them charismatic species!
Years after, I decided to pursue a masters degree in marine biology from Silliman University in the Philippines. I worked with the university’s marine institute while completing my degree and was given opportunities to lead projects towards marine mammal research. A Fulbright scholarship to pursue a Ph.D. degree brought me to the Florida Institute of Technology since 2015 where I work as a research assistant in the biotoxin laboratory looking into the effects of harmful algal blooms to the marine mammal populations and the prey they consume. Learning new skills is something that I always look forward to and it led me to be part of the Isocamp organized by the University of Utah, where the world of stable isotopes and the application to ecological studies became clearer to me.
My study on the foraging ecology of cetaceans’ forms part of my dissertation and it brings me back to my homeland, the Philippines, where cetacean diversity is outstanding yet needs more data aside from where we can find the animals and what species they are. Conservation is not an overnight process, so I also invest in grassroots activities such as production of knowledge materials (e.g. wildlife rescue and response manual series for general public) and conduct training for first responders mainly in study sites focused on marine mammal conservation.
Thank you in advance for helping me in this undertaking. I hope the adventures will become yours too!