The escalating global crisis of coral bleaching and erosion, accentuated by climate change, pollution, and overfishing, has put marine ecosystems at grave risk. Coral reefs, frequently labeled as the ”rainforests of the sea,” are a major focus as they are vital to marine biodiversity. The loss of these reefs affects not just the beauty of our oceans but also the many marine species they sustain. The diversity of species in coral reefs is second only to tropical forests.
Amid this worldwide concern, the Galápagos Archipelago has emerged as a symbol of both marine fragility and resilience. Around 100 women here work for the Galápagos National Park Directorate. Among this dedicated group is marine biologist Jenifer Suárez, whose commitment to conserving the archipelago’s coral reefs is profound and noteworthy.
From an early age, Jenifer was drawn to the sea. Her academic journey, fueled by a scholarship, led her to a biology degree and subsequent marine research at the Charles Darwin Foundation. In 2014, her focus shifted to the Galápagos National Park Directorate, where she spearheads a coral reef restoration project in the Galápagos Marine Reserve. Her work in the field and under the ocean is supported by Galápagos Conservancy.
Jenifer’s response to the global challenge of coral degradation is hands-on. On her frequent dives, she gathers data on coral health that contributes not only to local conservation efforts but also to global understanding of coral status. With support from Galápagos Conservancy, she initiated several underwater nurseries in Academy Bay on Santa Cruz Island. These nurseries, pivotal in aiding coral growth by providing small corals for outplanting on weakened coral reefs and into new areas, are making significant strides in reviving corals in several areas of the Galápagos Marine Reserve.
Emphasizing awareness and education, Jenifer actively interacts with the local community, engaging many youth from the local community in coral propagation and planting efforts. Through her educational outreach, she hopes to instill a sense of duty among residents and spark parallel global conservation movements.
Jenifer’s dedication, alongside community collaboration, is helping secure the future of Galápagos coral reefs and provides an inspirational template for addressing similar challenges faced by corals elsewhere.