One year in a new world
On March 16, 2020, along with millions of our neighbors in northern California, Seacology’s staff entered a new reality when health officials issued a stay-at-home order. We quickly packed up computers, files, and personal items in our modest Berkeley office and moved daily operations into our homes. None of us expected that we wouldn’t be together again for more than a year.
We also had no idea how the pandemic might affect our projects around the world. But we’re proud to say that Seacology has not only made do under these unprecedented circumstances, but that we’ve been delighted by the progress we’ve seen and the continued generosity of Seacology supporters.
Since the pandemic began, we launched 30 new projects and finished several existing ones successfully. We expanded our work into new countries and territories, including Spain and Bonaire. We rallied support to save an endangered bee species whose habitat was decimated by bushfires in Australia. Working with dedicated local partners and organizations, our projects protected mangroves in the Philippines, rainforest in Borneo, and endangered dugongs in Palau, just to name a few. And we will soon begin Seacology’s second nationwide project, which will protect mangrove ecosystems across the Dominican Republic.
The pandemic has greatly complicated our work, of course. Many of our field representatives — the two dozen people around the globe who work with island communities to develop Seacology projects — have been unable to visit project sites. Supply chains have been disrupted, delaying the delivery of building materials. People in partner organizations have fallen ill with COVID-19 but have, thankfully, recovered.
In some cases, we’ve been able to directly help communities cope with the fallout of the pandemic. Many island communities suffered devastating economic losses when international tourism dried up or foreign markets were cut off. To provide other sources of income, several recent Seacology projects focus on local ecotourism, offering a lifeline to places historically reliant on foreign visitors.
To the many generous Seacology supporters who helped keep our work going strong, we are deeply grateful. We don’t know when we’ll be able to again hold events, like our 2021 Seacology Prize Ceremony (coming up on October 7), in person. But we can hardly wait to thank you all face-to-face!