Pollution and acidification of the oceans, coral ecology, effects of climate change on the oceans and research in Antarctica are some of the topics which fall under the responsibility of marine science experts at the University of Antioquia, The Center for Excellence in Marine Sciences Corporation (CEMarin) and a number of German institutions.
Thanks to the support of the CEMarin Corporation and the Vice-Chancellor of Research at the University of Antioquia, the teachers at the headquarters of Marine Sciences in Turbo and ascribed members of the Environmental Academic Corporation: Jenny Leal-Flórez, Mónica María Zambrano Ortiz and Fernando José Parra Velandia, visited a number of German universities in the second half of 2017. Their objective was to strengthen existing ties in marine science research, enhance knowledge of opportunities and thematic lines and identify possible ways to work together in areas of common interest such as marine pollution and biodiversity , paleoecology, aquaculture, among others.
“Being part of the scientific committee of the CEMarin Corporation and the Inter-institutional Doctorate Program in Marine Sciences has opened the doors for us to work together with several German universities, we visited, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen, among others. This university has an institute of marine sciences with transdisciplinary studies in which chemistry, marine biodiversity and paleoecology are focused on. This was very interesting to us, although we did not find work done in the area of fisheries resources, one of our strengths in Turbo,” says Jenny Leal-Flórez, PhD in Natural Resources and National Coordinator of the Inter-institutional Doctorate in Marine Sciences.
Visiting the department of ecology and animal systematics of Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen, was one of the most valuable moments of the trip for Fernando José Parra Velandia, Doctor in marine biology and professor at the University of Antioquia in Marine Sciences. “We visited laboratories with coral reef simulations and an installation that allows evaluation of the growth conditions of corals in different concentrations of salt, light, carbon dioxide (CO2) and disturbance effects; allowing for studies to be done on the possible correlations between the variables and to verify the field findings. Furthermore, the experimental work is done collaboratively between doctorate and master’s students, together they analyze difficulties and challenges. It is very intriguing to see this type of work.” Says Professor Parra Velandia.
“In the field of water quality and marine pollution, I found several universities such as, Universität Bremen, University of Oldenburg and the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, have top researchers on the subject of ocean acidification. They have managed bioassays to identify how acidification affects corals and that simulate the conditions generated by climate change. They have also experimented with different parameters to identify how organisms respond to these stress conditions. Nowhere else in the world can you find laboratories like that,” says Mónica María Zambrano Ortiz, Doctor of Biological Sciences, Antarctic expeditionary and professor at the University of Antioquia in Turbo.
This team of researchers and teachers also presented the work they have been doing in Colombia, over the past few years, to their peers in Germany. Jenny Leal Flórez presented her work on the ecology of invasion and fisheries resources through the results of the project: ‘Priority Guidelines For The Formulation of a Fishing Regulation Of The Gulf of Urabá (LOPEGU).’ Fellow teacher Mónica Zambrano presented her experience of the expeditions in the Antarctic in the field of marine pollution and Professor Fernando Parra shared the project developed in Punta Caribana, Necoclí, in which coral ecosystems were found in the Gulf of Urabá in an area where there were no reports of this type of ecosystem.
The historic relationship of academic cooperation between Germany and Colombia in marine and coastal issues involves entities such as the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service), the Coastal Marine Research Institute, José Benito Vives de Andreis (INVEMAR), the CEMarin Corporation, the Colombian Ocean Commission (CCO), the University of Antioquia through the program in Marine Sciences, and other universities and Colombian entities that aim to strengthen research of our oceans.
As a result of this extensive and informative journey, joint projects and cooperation agreements are currently being carried out between some of these German universities, the University of Antioquia and the CEMarin Corporation.