Karen Ascensio

Naturalist

Karen was born on the island of Santa Cruz, at the heart of the Galapagos Archipelago, and spent her entire childhood there, only leaving to go to university at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito in the Andean capital of Ecuador. Here she got a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, concentrating mainly on the field of Applied Ecology. The first time she entered the sea she was just 3 months old and has been captivated by the ocean ever since. She is now a PADI dive instructor and works as both Naturalist Guide and Marine Reserve dive guide for the Galapagos National Park Service, all around the archipelago.

She is passionate about teaching the world about the wonderful place she was born and raised and has given courses in Ecology with Ecology Project International (EPI) in different parts of the world, such as Baja California Sur (México) and Yellowstone National Park (USA). She also spent some time on board the scientific research vessel Garvin, learning about different methods to research Elasmobranchs (sharks and rays).

She is presently undertaking a research project in which she is studying the invasive species that affect the Galapagos, mainly focusing on invasive plants and invertebrates, their trophic interactions, environment and ecosystem, and has also participated as researcher in a project studying mercury levels in Galapagos fish, bird and human populations.

Through her family she has inherited her PARMA license, meaning she is a licensed artisanal fisherman in the Galapagos Marine Reserve and is studying for a Master’s degree in Environmental Management, in which she is focusing on the socio-economical systems of the Galapagos. Her areas of interest are mainly the study of behavior (ethology), conservation biology, diving, management of invasive species and exploring the world through travel.

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