Meet our new Roving Restoration Technician
Lalo, what's your background, and what motivated you to get involved in coral reef restoration?
Corals genuinely interested me when I was at university, but at that point, I did not know which area I wanted to dive deeper into. Fortunately, one of the most important Latin-American congresses, the "VII Mexican and I Pan-American Congress of Coral Reefs", was in my hometown, and I participated as a volunteer. During the event, I attended various lectures, mainly on coral physiology, and in one of them, I met Dr. Ania Banaszak. Talking to her eventually gave me an impulse to discover the field I am working in today.
At the end of my classes, I volunteered at the Coralium Lab as a technician for different coral restoration projects. I also participated in several coral restoration workshops of the UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) and SECORE.
Lalo outplanting Seeding Units (coral recruits on substrates)
Why did you join our team in Puerto Morelos this year?
One of the main reasons I joined SECORE is my strong interest in scientific research and the implementation of technologies that help conserve coral reefs. My new position also allows me to practice the knowledge and experience I have previously acquired in different projects, and these skills continue improving day by day.
You are our Roving Restoration Technician. What are your main tasks, and what has been the most challenging experience so far?
My main task is to advance SECORE's research and implementation programs by providing field and laboratory expertise and assisting projects within SECORE's Caribbean implementation partner network. I also support coral reef restoration activities at the Coralium Lab of UNAM. One of the limitations that I have experienced is how the pandemic affected our ability to travel. Unfortunately, I couldn't proceed with much of my work outside of Mexico as planned. However, I am optimistic about the future and hope the situation will ease soon, allowing us to travel again.
Photo by Aric Bickel. Lalo (first from right) explaining spawning trap nets at a training event in the Dominican Republic
Is there anything you are particularly looking forward to when you get ready for your next field trip?
Before going on my next field trip, I am always thinking about how to get best involved on-site and at the same time involve other people in coral reef restoration. I want the work we do to be as professional, safe, and fun as possible to meet the particular objectives of field trips. My job is to share my expertise in larval propagation and to train other groups using SECORE technologies. I want to enhance the dire situation of coral reefs.
... and this is much needed! If you look at the coral reefs and coastline around Puerto Morelos, what makes you worried?
I am greatly concerned about the pollution that increases every day at the coast of Puerto Morelos and other regions of the Mexican Caribbean. We have to take immediate action to protect coral reefs and other closely related species and ecosystems.
Taking action is more important than ever. What gives you hope for the future of coral reefs?
It's encouraging to know that at SECORE, we're focusing on sexual coral reproduction and the implementation of novel techniques that aim to advance the large-scale restoration of these vital marine ecosystems. This is why I am thrilled to be part of this organization.
It's essential to continue with our work, upscale our efforts, and advance our methods to help corals adapt to a changing environment. I believe the collaboration with different institutions, coastal communities, and service providers plays a significant role in creating alliances that can contribute to our goals. We can only enhance the critical situation of reefs by joining forces.
Thanks, Lalo! We are glad to have you on board and hope you can travel soon again to assist our implementation partners across the Caribbean!