As a faculty member and scientist in the Marine Science Institute (MSI), Dr. Aletta Yñiguez’ area of interest includes marine ecology, biological oceanography, ecological modelling, and dynamics of marine systems. Currently, she is still focusing on these specializations but with a distinct objective—to develop tools model for sustainable fisheries that will be accessible not only to big industries but also to small-scale fisherfolks.
Dr. Yñiguez started immersing herself into the Philippine waters, literally, when she came back to the country after finishing her PhD degree in Miami, Florida, 14 years ago. Since then, she has contributed to and headed numerous publications and research projects, taught a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses, went on many scientific dives and research cruises, and was recognized by many award-giving bodies. Needless to say, she is one of the Philippines’ most successful marine scientists.
But what does a successful and socially aware scientist like Dr. Yñiguez want more in their scientific journey?
It is her ultimate goal to generate scientific information, tools and systems that help ensure the health of our ocean resources; this includes developing decision-support systems for resource managers like BFAR, DENR, as well as coastal communities. Particularly, these tools and systems provide real-time ocean status. This data and information are then used to forecast probable change in the conditions of the water that may help decision-makers like LGUs determine the best course of response to take. This will greatly help the public as most sea-related issues generally affect them, taking red tide as an example.
One of her recent projects, together with three other MSI researchers, is the “ARAICoBeH” System. This very resourceful and creative instrument, mainly made up of an underwater camera, stabilizer, laser lights, GPS and echo sounder, is an inexpensive alternative tool for capturing underwater images such as coral reefs. This innovation saves time and resources as it makes scientific diving assessments unnecessary, while producing similar results.
Dr. Yñiguez is also involved in extension programs such as organizing summer camps and marine science events for the youth because she believes that producing advocates of science starts at the basic level of education and that there is a need to strongly enhance scientific literacy in the country.
“Different methods are already used in foreign countries, but some are out-of-reach as of now. So we are hoping to create something Philippine-made that is also accessible and easy to adapt,” Dr. Yñiguez says as she expresses her plans to develop more tools and approaches to sustain the country’s ocean resources and protect marine ecosystems.