Marine Biodiversity Conservationist
Sandra Bessudo, a dual French and Colombian national, is an esteemed naturalist and environmentalist, holding a degree in Life and Earth Sciences from Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes in France. With over 7,000 dives globally, she’s a committed marine biodiversity conservationist. Serving as High Presidential Advisor in Colombia, she focused on environmental management, biodiversity, water, and climate change. Currently, as the Executive Director of the Malpelo and Other Marine Ecosystems Foundation, Bessudo leads initiatives such as anti-illegal fishing, shark-related scientific programs, and community-focused ecological projects in the Colombian Pacific, solidifying her as a global advocate for marine conservation.
From my first encounter with the ocean at the age of four, I was captivated by its mysteries. Becoming a diver fueled my curiosity about marine species and ecosystems, leading me to explore and comprehend the threats jeopardizing their health. As an explorer, my fascination with sharks intensified, revealing the alarming state of global shark populations, particularly the impact of fishing on Malpelo Island’s biodiversity. Since 2004, I’ve spearheaded telemetry studies, unraveling the spatial ecology of vulnerable species to bolster their protection.
Through concerted efforts, Malpelo became an UNESCO world heritage center and a Marine Protected Area under the category of Marine Fauna and Flora Sanctuary. Spatial ecology studies have highlighted species connectivity between Eastern Tropical Pacific islands like Galápagos, Malpelo, and Cocos, extending to the coastlines of Panama, Colombia, and Ecuador. My ongoing battle against illegal fishing stems from recognizing it as the primary threat to the Malpelo Fauna and Flora Sanctuary.
“The most meaningful aspect lies in the collective effort to preserve our oceans, expanding exploration’s definition beyond the physical boundaries to encompass the delicate balance between human activities and marine life.“
To preserve endangered shark species, a deeper understanding of their spatial ecology and other biological facets is crucial. Identifying key management actions and conserving critical areas are imperative for their survival. The oceans, which generously provide for us, are under siege. If left unprotected, we risk losing invaluable resources for future generations. My commitment extends beyond research; it’s a call to action for the preservation of our oceans. Destruction of these vital ecosystems not only endangers marine life but also threatens our very existence. We must unite to protect the oceans, ensuring a sustainable legacy for the generations yet to come.