Marine Ecologist Alexa Ambassador q&a

Marine Ecologist Alexa

Alexa is a marine ecologist, scientific communicator and educator based in Florida. She uses her scientific background to share stories of marine species, ecosystems, research, and conservation efforts. Her aim is to use her experiences as a marine ecologist to inspire others to experience, enjoy and care for the natural world. After all we’re more likely to protect what we know and love!

Read on to learn more about her experiences and inspiration …

If you were an animal what would you be?

A green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas)! In addition to this species being the focus of my research for 3 years I find we have a lot in common. Green turtles are good swimmers, migratory and are a primarily herbivorous species. Just as I love to freedive, travel, and eat a plant-based diet!

green sea turtle swimming
If you want to be a sea turtle too – check out all out turtle designs here. Photo credit : Alexa Putillo – Green sea turtle in Gulf of Mexico, Florida.

What is your favourite thing to do in your spare time?

I am a very active person and I love any activity that is in or around the water. My favorite hobby is freediving, and I spend a lot of my spare time doing that, but I also love to paddleboard.

What is your first memory / experience of the ocean?

My first experience was off the coast of New York, in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean. I remember walking so far along the shore looking for any shells or small critters that made their way onto the sand. I wanted to collect everything that emerged from the waves and spent so much time looking at shells and small crabs trying to tell them apart. This might have foreshadowed my love of marine invertebrates when I began to study marine science!

How did you get interested in sustainability / eco living and / or the ocean?

I became conscious of ocean advocacy / sustainability when I started studying marine biology. This desire to minimize my footprint on the natural world only grew as I continued in my career and started researching an endangered species, that was heavily threatened by marine debris. I continue to do my best every day to improve my lifestyle choices and aim to inspire others to join the fight for our oceans.

Marine ecologist Alexa collecting standard measurement data from a juvenile green turtle in the Gulf of Mexico, Florida, USA  during her masters project
Alexa collecting standard measurement data from a juvenile green turtle in the Gulf of Mexico, Florida, USA  during her masters project

What do you find hardest about advocating for the ocean and / or sustainability?

The biggest challenge, in my opinion, is establishing a connection in people to the ocean. Every decision we make has cascading implications on different species and ecosystems; specifically regarding pollution, rising temperatures, overfishing, bycatch and development. I’ve found an increase in understanding of our connection to and reliance on the ocean catalyses a desire in people to reduce their individual impact and spread awareness.

What is your favourite place to visit?

The Caribbean region has such a special place in my heart!

Where do you want to travel next and why?

The Galápagos Islands is next on my list and my ultimate bucket list destination! I want to go for the incredible diversity of plant and animal life both on land and in the water.

What keeps you motivated and inspired?

I have worked with a variety of mentors with their own unique journey in ocean conservation. I am constantly in awe of their contributions and unyielding effort in this field. At the same time, I am inspired by students and learners, of all ages, that exude a passion and love for the oceans. I just know they will be incredible conservation warriors and ocean ambassadors.

What advice would you give someone reading this who wants to start helping the ocean?

Become involved any way that you can! Advocacy and conservation looks different for everyone. We can all have a unique and complimentary role in protecting our oceans with the different skills, backgrounds and perspectives we all possess. Do something that you are passionate about and dive into it!

Any upcoming projects / activities / causes you want to shout out?

I recently published my research here! I also will be launching a YouTube channel soon so look out for that!

To learn more about the work Alexa does as a marine ecologist and to check out some of her stunning prints check out her website here . To follow along with her ongoing ocean adventures her IG @alexaputillo is the place to be.

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