Faces of GCMP: Leticia Cavole


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Leticia Cavole

My name is Leticia Cavole and I am currently living in San Diego, CA. I am a first year PhD student studying Marine Biology at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The focus of my research is analyzing the differences of fish growth inside mangroves areas in the Gulf of California, Mexico. I was drawn to this topic because I used to live in a place where fisheries played important social, cultural and economic roles; its significance encourages me to take part in better managing these resources for its conservation.

Combined with my curiosity concerning how fish communities respond to environmental conditions in terms of growth and production, I am studying the ecology of reef fish with commercial relevance. I would like to use them to test the hypothesis that extreme climate events such as the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) can significantly impact fish growth and associated production, both in terms of biomass and reproductive output. If such a hypothesis is true, then extreme climate may threaten fisheries yields and livelihood security: this is especially relevant for developing coastal communities, where fish are key sources of animal protein for the local populations. Ideally, I would like to produce results that help the management of key fisheries and establish priority areas for its integral protection, including Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Even though research can be frustrating and terribly difficult at times, it’s nonetheless inspiring and motivating knowing that I am taking part to protect the ocean as a whole ecosystem, enabling it to continue to provide services for the next generations.

My greatest achievement thus far is being the first oceanography student to work in a federal ministry of my country. Using my fisheries knowledge in an environmental consultancy in the Federal Public Ministry (MPF-PRM) in Brazil, I drafted technical evidence in judicial and extrajudicial parts. I also attended hearings, meetings, views, and inspections with prosecutors—this was critical for my synthesis of reports and official documents that portrayed a view in accordance with the lawsuits and extrajudicial expedients. That was the first time an oceanographer student worked in a federal ministry in my country.

While my dream is to help create the biggest Marine Protected Areas in underdeveloped countries, I nonetheless like to engage in other activities such as drawing and playing guitar.  I also admire Carl Sagan for his ability to communicate high quality scientific research to the common public.

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