What makes Colombia so interesting for marine research?

Colombia is one of five so-called “mega-diverse countries” in the world that exhibits an extraordinarily high species diversity. Although the country located between the Pacific and the Caribbean accounts for less than one percent of the Earth’s surface, it ranks among the top countries in terms of number of endemic species. Reasons for that are, besides a well-documented biodiversity in the country’s tropical rain forests, a vast marine territory in two oceans.

The promotion of marine sciences and the protection and sustainable use of marine resources are a national priority in Colombia. In particular, the loss of marine biodiversity, the increasing destruction of coastal habitats by agriculture, industry and tourism, as well as the adverse influence of global warming, has long been of concern for citizens and scientists.


Mangrove forest in the Gulf of Urabá

Need for integrating marine sciences

During the past decades, both the direction and focus of scientific research have changed dramatically. Particularly, the process of globalization, the increasing complexity of scientific problems as well as the need for robust scientific information for decision makers, on the one hand, and limited funding/resources, on the other hand, have affected science policy. Today, a successful and visible science has to meet the following criteria: it has to be interdisciplinary, based on international networking, focused on emerging fields, and linking basic science with the solution of vexing problems (particularly social-ecological problems).



Housings in the Gulf of Urabá

CEMarin research themes

The CEMarin aims at making Colombian and international marine scientists work together across disciplines and institutions, and to combine their experience for solving fundamental questions related to the oceans.

The CEMarin has chosen three interdisciplinary and interacting areas that determine the strategy of the center in terms of research priorities, infrastructure development, teaching programs, capacity building, and policy making.

  (i) Marine environmental change

  • Environmental change in key ecosystems
  • Effects of environmental changes on key marine species
  • Understanding past environmental changes to predict the future
  • Consequences of environmental change – sustainable use and conservation of natural marine resources

  (ii) Marine resources

  • Towards sustainable fisheries and aquaculture
  • Marine bioprospection
  • Marine renewable energies

  (iii) Ocean, society and law

  • Ecosystem functioning
  • Socio-economy
  • Environmental law

The Red Lionfish (Pterois volitans), an invasive species in the Caribbean

Main CEMarin research sites

CEMarin scientists conduct cutting-age research at the global, regional (e.g., Tropical Eastern Pacific, Caribbean, Antarctica) as well as local scale. For the latter, four main research sites are of particular interest:

  • Santa Marta (Caribbean)
  • Islas del Rosario; San Andrés and Providencia (Caribbean)
  • Gulf of Urabá (Caribbean)
  • Bahía Malaga (Pacific)