Underwater Warning

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Through the collection of unpublished underwater photographs ‘Mysteries of the deep’, the marine biologist Yuri Hooker invites to safeguard the seabed from the State and society.

Hooker, a privileged person who knows the seabed, has more than 50 publications and has registered new marine species in Peru. He was the protagonist of the documentary Pacíficum (2017). But he is worried about the indifference about life in the sea of Grau.

“Peru is known for its biodiversity, but it is always projected to the Amazon, the mountains or beaches. The seabed and its endangered wildlife species are invisible. Even the State, since the mid-fifties, sees it as a space for the extraction of resources. They have educated us that we are an inexhaustible source that could feed the whole world. ”

But the northern scientist remembers that 30% of the fish and shellfish that consume in our diet are imported because the Peruvian sea no longer produces enough due to overexploitation. “It is the great problem of Peruvian marine cuisine: the difficulty of finding fish and shellfish.”

A delicate place

The more than 40 photographs that makeup Mysteries of the deep seek the visitor’s reflection.

“Neither the sea of Grau is an inexhaustible source nor are fish inexpressive beings that only breed to be eaten.” Fallacies

Underline the message. “We must worry about the seabed as we do with rivers or forests.” How? With a sustainable use of resources, prioritizing marine conservation and national food. “We have to use the sea responsibly.”

Sea protected? 

Hooker immerses us in the figures. While Brazil and Chile have more than 40% of their protected sea, and Ecuador more than 20%, Peru only has 0.4% protected sea [Paracas, San Fernando and the reserve of islands and guano points], and with conservation ” basically terrestrial or from the animals that we see as sea lions, guano birds, landscape, turtles. We do not do anything for underwater conservation. ”

However, remember that the two marine ecosystems in front of Piura and Tumbes, which correspond to the tropical sea -between Cabo Blanco and the border with Ecuador-, and the tropical transition zone -between Cabo Blanco and the peninsula of Illescas-, are fished more than 60% of all the fish and seafood eaten nationwide. “And there are no marine protected areas.”

The exhibition Mysteries of the depths presents representative fauna of these two great marine ecosystems and also of the current of Peru or Humboldt, of cold waters, which covers the largest amount of our sea.

Additionally, it shows images where all the contaminated spaces can be seen by the hand of man. In two showcases are exhibited samples of the scientific collection and the underwater cameras that have been used for their registration.

Trawl fishing

For the marine biologist, the concept of biodiversity is misused, since it does not refer to what we eat. “Biodiversity is the small animals that are the food of the species that we are interested in consuming”.

In this sense, it draws attention to the lack of control of the illegal trawling fishing that occurs in Piura in the first five miles of the coast.

“They use very small mesh nets that destroy the seabed: dolphins, turtles, small crabs, fish, fish food. Only 10% or 15% is really useful for the fishery. The rest, biodiversity, is thrown into the sea as garbage, which generates the disappearance of species. To this is added the oil spills, by the old platforms; and the expansion of these, which are a threat to biodiversity and artisanal fishing, “he warns.

Underwater Warning

Scientific work

The Trujillano biologist elaborates “identification guides of the echinoderms of Peru”, which has increased the registry of 74 to 142 species. This work will then extend it to crustaceans and marine slugs.

Unlike countries in Europe or the United States, where marine biologists specialize in a specific group of marine species, scientific research here is more global, because it is done by self-financing. In your case, from counselling or lectures or classes that dictates. And the direction of the Marine Biology Laboratory and the Aquatic Zoology Collection of the Cayetano University are ad honorem tasks.

“Either we are too intelligent or the opposite, because we believe that it is not necessary to generate basic knowledge, pure science. But we can not solve the problems of food in the country as long as we do not have information. ”

Therefore he advises young people who want to follow their footsteps to focus on a productive field to finance what they really love.