Dania Trespalacios has joined Reef Check as the Director of Reef Check’s Tropical Program, where she will lead Reef Check’s global network of coral reef citizen scientists, and support and strengthen the work of all Reef Check EcoDivers, Trainers, Coordinators and partners that drive Reef Check’s mission of conserving coral reefs for future generations.
Dania grew up on the seashore, with her mother’s family on the Spanish Mediterranean and her father’s family in South Florida. At 16, she learned to scuba dive with her father and siblings. At 21, she began to work on coral reefs on Bocas del Toro, Panama. During her university years, Dania realized she wanted to help improve the way people interact with the sea, so she embarked on a career in marine conservation. Dania earned Bachelor’s degrees in Biology and Political Science at New College of Florida, and a Master’s in Environmental Management from Yale University. Since then, Dania has worked on marine conservation for more than a decade, contributing to ocean science, policy, and management at government, non-profit and international organizations, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Global Environment Facility, the World Wildlife Fund and The Nature Conservancy.
Dania is lucky to have had some interesting professional adventures. She has helped the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) scope out potential marine protected areas in the Red Sea. She has worked on sustainable fisheries policy for the World Wildlife Fund and the Environmental Defense Fund. At NOAA, she represented the US government in negotiations for data sharing agreements with the European Union and Russia. Most recently, at The Nature Conservancy, Dania’s team created groundbreaking science to show how coral reefs and mangroves protect coastlines from storms. Along the way, she’s grateful to have worked with fantastic folks committed to positive change and meaningful impact in marine conservation. She appreciates the close-knit character of the ocean loving community. In fact, it was a friend and fellow diver, and a Reef Check California volunteer that sent Dania the job advertisement for her current position.
Dania is excited to return to her Scleractinian base! She is eager to connect with “reef folk”, both those that live next to the reefs they depend on, and those that visit them often. Dania sees a powerful potential in Reef Check’s global network of coral reef citizen scientists. She aims to harness that potential, to support, strengthen and grow the network of EcoDivers, Trainers, Coordinators, volunteers, and partners that together will bring about real conservation change on the ground. During her first two months, Dania has reached out to many of you in the Tropics to identify the pressing needs for Reef Check Tropical- heads up- you might be next!
When she’s away from Reef Check, Dania can often be found in the ocean. She enjoys scuba diving, free diving, sailing, swimming, surfing, and has recently taken up paddle boarding. She lives in Santa Cruz, California (she has quickly grown her cold-water layers!) and often visits her family in Miami, Madrid and Mojácar. Please feel free to contact Dania any time- really! She would be happy to hear from you.