We invited Karen Fuentes, the Founder and Director at Manta Trusts Caribbean Manta Project in Isla Mujeres, Mexico, to tell us about the Indian Oceans first observatory focused on multi-ecosystem time series research. 

Read on to find out about her job and how you can get involved!

Karen Fuentes - Founder and Director The Caribbean Manta Project - Mexico
Karen Fuentes - Founder and Director The Caribbean Manta Project - Mexico

Briefly describe your organisation and your role

I am the founder and director of the MCP.

The Manta Caribbean Project is a Mexican non-profit based in Isla Mujeres, we conduct research on mobulid ray species, collaborate and work with local communities and other stakeholders through a series of conservation strategies on fisheries, local tour operators, and education to promote awareness, furthermore the creation of management tools for a sustainable future of the natural and human resources.

When did your organisation launch and what inspired the concept and conservation strategy?

Our project started in 2013 and consolidated as a non-profit in 2015. We believe that local communities must be the front line representing their concern about the conservation of the marine resources, mantas and devil rays are gentle creatures that can inspire everyone that encounters them in their habitat and can led for a positive transformative process in the protection of their species in the Mexican Caribbean.

What is the most significant change from when your organisation first opened to what it is today?

The involvement of local communities in our organization that was created to expand knowledge about mobulid ray species existence and their importance in the Mexican Caribbean waters.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Doing what I love! To have the opportunity to try to motivate people to care and protect about the manta and devil rays, by taking care of the oceans we are taking care of our own health and lives. That every year there are more guardians of mantas out there in the ocean working to protect them.

Share with us one of the most exciting moments at your organisation.

Every stage during the development of our organization from its inception has been a lesson and an invaluable experience working along with multiple partners, communities, students, scientist, conservationist, designers, and other disciplines! It is incredible how everything sums up to the conservation efforts by a single human, we shouldn’t stop trying to solve and act towards the current challenges of our times for the conservation of the oceans.

What are 3 things that make your project unique?

  • We have three pillars that drive our efforts: conservation, research, and education.
  • Our manta team is strong and each member has unique skills to contribute to manta conservation
  • We work and collaborate with multiple stakeholders starting with the local communities.

Why is it so important for interns/volunteers to join your project?

They are crucial support during our summer program as they help us with daily regular activities including research and conservation actions, but also, they can learn and gain experience on the conservation, research and strategies that a non-profit requires to be able to operate successfully. They learn how to handle equipment and register data but most importantly they can experience the real challenges that ocean conservation work has and help them to develop skills for their future on marine science or conservation work.

What is the most important thing for your interns/volunteers to know before they start your programme?

They should be prepared to challenge themselves and be open to learn, conservation and research is fun but also requires lots of responsibilities and commitment.

Tell us about your favorite underwater experience!

All experiences with mantas are an absolute dream, every time its different, studying these animals is a privilege and to learn from the oceans and nature is a gift of life that encourages us to keep working towards the conservation of our local habitats.

Want to get involved in marine conservation abroad?

Search from our hand selected volunteer and internship programs