At Ukuthula we have had the opportunity to interview Clàudia Auladell Quintana, a Marine Biologist with a degree in Environmental Biology from the University of Barcelona, who works bravely to raise awareness and educate people about the marine ecosystem and its conservation. She has worked in different countries and companies researching marine mammals, as well as belonging to a local naturist association. Clàudia is not only an amazing Biologist, regularly contributing to national projects, but she is a role model for all aspiring marine biologists. When she is not working, she collaborates by organizing beach and forest cleanups in her town.
1. When did you start to be interested in marine science? Was there a unique experience?
It happened in a very organic way. I have been lucky enough to live very close to the sea, and both my parents and my grandparents have been in love with the sea for as long as I can remember. I started to be interested in animals from a very young age, my grandfather has been a great influence on it, he was one of the first people to dive in Spain and he would take us in his little boat to go around and look for animals among the rocks; I guess that's how my love and respect for animals and nature began.
I remember that as a child I was on the beach and I saw a dolphin in the distance, I am still not sure if it was my imagination as a child or if it is a real memory, but from that moment I began to be more interested in this marine world. When I was older, I had the opportunity to do a research work on dolphins in captivity, I wanted to know if there was any difference between the behavior of the dolphins at L'Aquarium de Barcelona and the dolphins that lived freely. Since that experience, my concern for these animals only continued to grow, and I decided to go on an outing with people who study cetaceans on my coast.
2.What did you learn from that experience?
Seeing them in captivity was an experience that made me very sad. Dolphins are highly intelligent, emotional, and complex animals. They usually swim and move for miles during the day, plus the sound is their main means of communication, so having them locked up in a tank where the sound bounces off the walls is torture, and many of them end up committing suicide.
Another thing I learned on that outing was that on the Catalan coast we have a wide variety of marine animals and ecosystems that we have not studied in depth, for example, we have the second-largest whale in the world. I think there is a big knowledge gap and I would like in the long run to be able to fill it a little bit.
3. What is the most exciting part of working as a marine biologist? And the most challenging?
The most exciting part is the gratitude you feel when you are in the sea and you get to see these animals so majestic and free in their habitat. The impressive balance that exists in the ocean, from the smallest to the largest, and how beautiful it can be.
The most challenging part is the lack of funding in the sector, very little investment is currently being made in science. For many scientists, finding long-term projects, a good salary and a permanent position is almost impossible, this generates some frustration and competitiveness since there are very few resources and we all want that financing.
4. The ocean is threatened by a changing climate, how serious do you think the problem is?
The overexploitation of resources, pollution, and everything we are doing to the sea has destroyed the marine ecosystem, killing species and biodiversity in general, destroying habitats, and altering essential parameters in the sea, such as pH or temperature. . For example, now with the leak of the Nord Stream, all the methane gas that is being released into the Baltic Sea can be a catastrophe for the animals and the surrounding marine flora and fauna. We do it thinking more about geopolitics than about the ocean itself and that is why I think we have very little empathy and environmental responsibility. We need to put a little on our part to try to prevent this planet from collapsing. For now, I don't think that politicians, governments, or large companies are involved enough to reverse this change, we are very close to a point of no return.
5. How do you think we should change our relationship with the oceans in our daily lives?
I think it's normal that there is some frustration when you know that the change you can make is small compared to what a government or an entire country could do. But I think that we can be a mirror of many people. Movements that start small can change the world. This is how it all begins, people who want to make a change, and little by little more people join this movements. What is called the wave effect.
6. What is your relationship with sustainable fashion?
A few years ago I began to research the negative aspects that the industry had on the environment and everything that involved the creation and transportation of these products, and the truth is that I was horrified. Mainly, the terrible working conditions with which many people in Asia work. I try to use timeless clothes and more neutral colors and make sure that the clothes come from places with sustainability certificates, that is, that they are responsible for their impact and that they do not exploit their workers. I avoid using fast fashion brands in general.
7. If you could make one change in the fashion industry for the better, what would it be?
It would require all companies to go through rigorous evaluations in which they are obliged to comply with specific requirements, for example, that the rights of their workers be respected, that the sale and purchase of local raw materials be encouraged, that the manufacture of garments is made sustainably, through recycled fabrics and ecological dyes. In this way, we would be able to educate more people.
8. What is your favorite Ukuthula garment?
My favorite garment is the blue Gradient jacket. It's great for sports because it's waterproof, light, and comfortable. It is beautiful in color to wear in your day-to-day.
9. Your Ukuthula moment
My Ukuthula moment is when I am at the sea or on top of a mountain watching a sunset or sunrise.