Barbara Clabots is a social scientist focused on improving ocean conservation. She blends this with her passion for women’s empowerment by performing research for the Global Gender Office of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Locally, she serves the community as Seattle Surfrider‘s Volunteer Coordinator to improve water quality in the Puget Sound. When she’s not in the water or in the mountains, you can find her on Twitter @Women_and_Fish.
I think I was a sea turtle in my past life. I love the water- always have, and am just as enchanted with the ocean as any other person is once they really get to know her. I specifically remember being in sixth grade and daydreaming in the library after I had been to see the natural wonders of Hawai’i and thinking, “what if some day my job would be to snorkel with the fish?” and it pleased me immensely to consider it a possible career path.
After earning a degree in Biology and Spanish, I took off on a few adventures. I went chasing down pregnant sea turtles on remote beaches in heavy tropical rains, diving to collect data on the health of corals, and generally sticking my nose in wildlife’s faces just to get a better look.
I was also highly socialized in my large Cuban-American family, and it turns out that I talk to everyone and anyone. The fisherman, the fruit stand lady, and even the awkward teenagers are not safe from my curiosity.
What I see when I look at wildlife and what I have learned talking to people has filled my notebooks with stories, and these things have changed me and the course of my career. No longer a biologist (unless you consider humans within that), now my mission is to make conservation more effective, more democratic, and ultimately, about people and our relationship with the environment.
This blog is my tribute to the people of the Philippines and fishing communities everywhere… to share with you the struggles that we face in learning how to care for the only ocean we have.