SEVENSEAS Marine Conservation & Travel Issue 14, July 2016 - Page 79

impact, such as popular scuba diving sites that dive shops fight to conserve, recovery in both coral health and fish diversity and biomass has been seen.

Hopefully, the presence of STRI in Bocas del Toro is driving conservation initiatives through outreach programs with the local community. Several times a year, the scientists at STRI have the opportunity to reach out to the community to share the research that they have been working on. In Seemann’s opinion, these outreach events improve awareness about the environmental destruction that takes place in Bocas del Toro and stress the need to conserve the resources there. STRI cannot enforce conservation laws, but they can share the results of their data that show that protected areas are needed, that the waters surrounding Bocas del Toro are being overfished, and that coral reefs are dying from wastewater runoff and bleaching because of climate change. Seemann is currently working on a project called MarineGEO, which conducts regular observations of sites throughout the Bocas del Toro Archipelago to produce a public dataset that could perhaps serve as a resource for organizations that want to engage in conservation efforts. She wishes that there were more conservation initiatives in Bocas del Toro and hopes that her data can lead to an intensified conservation effort in the near future.