«Immerse yourself in a new world»: Oceanic culture as the focus of study.

The CONICYT’s Explora program has announced its investigation theme for the year 2017: Oceans.

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CONICYT’s Explora program has launched its research theme for the year 2017: Oceans.

Each year the CONICYT’s Explora program presents a subject that guides this year’s major research. For the present 2017, the theme for these annual activities will be: Oceans. With the objective of creating awareness about oceanic culture in the citizens and researchers dedicated to the subject of research will also focus on the preservation of everything related to the Chilean seas.

In Chile we have a national territory where almost 70% of it corresponds to the sea. On the one hand we have the continental territory, comprising 4,200 linear kilometers of coastline, which together with the islands and the coastal edges of the Chiloé archipelago, gives a total of 83,800 km. Ricardo Bravo Méndez, dean of the Faculty of Marine Sciences and Natural Resources of Universidad de Valparaiso points out, regarding this issue, that «This immense oceanic and coastal extension constitutes a wide variety of resources, among those it is worth mentioning fishing, port, tourism, landscapes, ecosystem and climate regulators resources.

Taking into account the previous points, a group of specialists and leading researchers from national universities, together with specialized research centers, chose the theme and launched it under the motto «Immerse yourself in a new world», aiming to educate the population about the social, economic and cultural significance of our country’s seas. Ensuring, in this way, that research and projects will be dedicated specifically to the conservation and preservation of coastal ecosystems and the species that inhabit them.

Natalia Mackenzie, director of the Explora Program, indicates that four thematic axes were defined to better implement the program and to bring it in an efficient and clear way to the population. These are: marine exploration, conservation and protection of our ocean, marine resources, and heritage and society.

This work was carried out by means of the Regional Associative Projects, where several universities located throughout the national territory participate involving students, young people, children and members of the community in their processes and investigations.

The theme of global warming is addressed, which inevitably reflects its effects on the flora and fauna of our coasts. Human action has influenced how ecosystems have been modified and affected by the overexploitation of many resources. This theme acquires relevance at the moment of educating the population, since its action is crucial when it comes to preservation.

It also deals with the need to preserve unique ecosystems of the world, such as the Juan Fernández Archipelago, which has about 60% of endemic marine species; one of the highest numbers in the world. On the other hand, there is the case of Easter Island, where the phenomenon called «oceanic desert» can be identified in the seabed, since it presents very few living beings or algae, making it one of the most extreme marine environments of the planet and absolutely worthy of study.