The first women of the sea
They were the first. Women ahead of their time who made the sea, the oceans and marine species their passion and their profession. Women who contributed and continue to contribute to the study of the marine and oceanographic reality, who discovered species, who were pioneers in the defence of biodiversity… They are some of the first women of the sea.
She was the first woman to join an oceanographic campaign in Spain and at the age of 22 she joined the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO) as the first female scientist in the history of the institution. During her career she studied ocean water masses, temperature, salinity and currents.
The first female member of the Catania Accademia Gioenia, her interest in marine life led her to invent aquariums. She used this tool to study the behaviour of marine fauna and to repopulate fish in rivers where they had almost disappeared, raising young specimens in her aquariums and releasing them in areas where they were no longer present.
At the age of 34 she got a position as an oceanographic biologist at the IEO laboratory in Vigo and began studying zooplankton and was the first woman scientist to work on board a British research vessel. A pioneer of oceanography in Spain, she discovered 22 new planktonic species for science.
Embarked on french fishing vessels in Saharan waters, she discovered a multitude of fish species and worked on more effective methods of catching them. She worked in the waters of Mauritania, Senegal, Guinea and Ivory Coast, where she became aware of the negative impact of industrial fishing on ecosystems, becoming a pioneer in biodiversity conservation.
Her research focuses on improving fish nutrition and making fish food healthier and more sustainable. She was the first female member of the International Committee on Fish Nutrition, an institution she came to chair in 2014, and last year she was made an Honorary Life Member of the World Aquaculture Society, the first woman to achieve this distinction in the institution’s 50 years.