Seek to sea more

Hello friends!

The Florida Keys are composed of ancient coral reefs. Although some of the keys have been developed, Biscayne’s main keys: Boca Chita, Elliot Key, and Adams Key remain a safe haven for marine wildlife. In the 1950’s, Biscayne’s keys became a popular destination for getaways. However, this was followed by a heated controversy as many wanted to develop Elliot Key, and others thought the area should remain untouched for the harmonious marine environments found in the bay. After much debate, in 1968 Biscayne National Monument came to be a protected area where marine organisms can thrive. Since 1980 once Biscayne became a National Park, conservation efforts have not ceased. During my previous blog posts, I’ve talked about the wondrous naturalistic aspects that make up Biscayne National Park. Now it’s time to go behind the scenes with the people who work daily to conserve and protect these pristine waters…

Meet Jan

Jan Lara Hernández is Biscayne’s Hydrologist Research Assistant.

Jan grew up in La Habana, Cuba and graduated from Florida International University with a degree in Marine Biology. As an undergraduate student, Jan worked with fish and animal behavior. Jan currently works in the water quality network for IBBEAM where they perform research in Biscayne’s water quality after rain events and freshwater discharge into the bay.

Jan highlights how he never really expected to be working as a hydrology assistant in Biscayne National Park. If it wasn’t for his volunteering as an undergrad with the water quality team in Biscayne National Park, he wouldn’t have had this job opportunity.  He hopes to participate and research in community ecology, while getting his master’s degree in Environmental Studies.

When asked what he would change among the NPS he shared how he would like to improve the accessibility of new project proposals and approvements. His favorite part of working in water quality monitoring is prepping and going out to do field work. Jan advises undergraduate students to keep their minds open to learning and acquiring different experiences.

Meet Vanessa

Vanessa McDonough is Biscayne’s Supervisory Wildlife Biologist

Vanessa grew up in Rhode Island and majored in Biology. She then pursued a Ph.D. in Marine Biology, surrounding the relationship between anthropogenic effects and marine wildlife. Vanessa is currently a supervisor for the Biscayne National Park Natural Resource Management division. She is the team leader for a series of projects that restore and conserve important parts of Biscayne’s ecosystems. Vanessa manages fish and wildlife monitoring, fisheries management projects, marine debris clean-ups, and coastal and reef habitat restoration. She also participates in the monitoring of threatened an

d endangered species, management of invasive species, and wildlife response.

For her, it’s important that the National Park Service engages proactively and thinks outside the box when facing climate change challenges. Vanessa shared how it’s important to improve the funding in NPS to have the staff and resources necessary.

Vanessa depicts how she truly didn’t know where she was headed during her years of undergrad. However, after studying abroad in Australia, she fell in love with diving into the beauty of marine ecosystems. This led her to study Marine Biology and pursue the career she has today, which to her is truly a dream job. Vanessa is very passionate about all the work she does, and every day starts as a new adventure. She advises anyone starting their career in the environmental and ecology fields to volunteer and get as many internship experiences as they can to understand what their true passion is.

1 Comment
  • Dr. Maria D. Cruz
    Posted at 20:14h, 09 July

    Great article! I’m so glad there are people like Jan, Vanessa and you Adriana who are working so diligently to safeguard our precious natural resources. I’m so very proud of you!

Post A Comment