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Celebrating women scientists in World Heritage marine sites

Saturday, 8 June 2019
access_time 2 min read
Rock Islands Southern Lagoon, Palau © Brian Sullivan

This World Oceans Day, 8 June, is dedicated to gender and the ocean. To celebrate the day, UNESCO honours all women whose scientific work is enhancing the conservation of the 49 marine sites inscribed on the World Heritage List. Discover the fascinating work of some of these women scientists through the videos below.

Ocean science is crucial for the protection and conservation of World Heritage marine sites. All 193 signatories to the 1972 World Heritage Convention have committed to develop scientific research and using the results of that research to counteract the dangers that threaten its natural heritage. With the growing impacts from climate change, marine pollution and unsustainable fisheries, it is imperative that more ocean science becomes available and is being used to inform management of World Heritage marine sites.

Many World Heritage marine sites are open-air laboratories where exciting scientific work is being conducted. Their pristine condition, isolation or uniqueness makes them also important reference points, with many opportunities for international scientific cooperation and ground-breaking discoveries.

The United Nations celebrates World Oceans Day every year on 8 June. The 2019 theme “Gender and Oceans” is an opportunity to explore the gender dimension of humankind’s relationship with the ocean and to help drive World Heritage marine site conservation in the framework of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021–2030).

Learn more about the scientific work from these women scientists whose work supports the conservation of the 49 marine sites inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. 

Denisse Fiero – “Studying sharks in the Galápagos Islands”
Charles Darwin Research Station, Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

Chris Gabriele – Humpback whale monitoring: photographing whale tails and collecting whale DNA
Glacier Bay National Park, USA

Natalia Andrade - “Ocean science for me is like learning how to talk with corals”
ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Karen Wiltshire – “It is imperative that we do excellent ocean science in order to come up with sustainable management concepts”
Alfred Wegener Institute, Wadden Sea, Germany – Netherlands – Denmark

Claire Garrigue – Monitoring the dugong population by plane, boat and satellite
Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Lagoons of New Caledonia: Reef Diversity and Associated Ecosystems, France

Athline Clark – “Learn from the past and apply what we learn to the future”
NOAA, Papahānaumokuākea, USA

Cheryl Sanchez – “We’re sort of like doctors, where we monitor and monitor, and act when we start to see problems”
Seychelles Island Foundation, Aldabra Atoll, Seychelles

Kirsten Rodgers – Studying albatross, penguins and the New Zealand sea lions
Department of Conservation – Te Papa Atawhai, New Zealand Subantarctic Islands, New Zealand