Estrella Tàpias, Sea Turtle Biologist, North Malé Atoll

Estrella Tàpias, Sea Turtle Biologist, North Malé Atoll
Estrella Tàpias,
Sea Turtle Biologist, North Malé Atoll

Estrella Tàpias was born amidst volcanoes on an island in the Atlantic Ocean. Her fascination with the sea started at a very early age whilst exploring the underwater life and crystal clear waters off the Canary Islands as she grew up. She “always” knew she wanted to dedicate her life to understand and protect nature.

To pursue her dreams, Estrella left the islands to study Biology at the University of Barcelona. During her studies she collaborated on zooplankton research at the CSIC (The Spanish National Research Council). She completed her degree with a year long ecotoxicology research project at the Animal Ecology Department at the University of Amsterdam.

Estrella then started a Master’s Degree in Research Biology at the Radboud University Nijmegen. She immediately travelled to Tanzania to research the ontogenetic migration of juvenile tropical fish from nurseries to coral reefs for her first MSc thesis. For the second thesis, she spent six months in the jungles of Costa Rica. Here she carried out her very first research project on what became her passion: sea turtles. Estrella’s research focused on the nesting site selection and sex determination of leatherbacks. However, she also had the chance to work with hawksbills and green turtles as a patrol leader and educator of locals, students and tourists. In addition, Estrella also wrote a theoretical component on overgrazing of green turtles around the globe as part of her degree. Estrella presented a poster of her completed research at the 36th International Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation in Lima in 2016.

Always driven by her thirst for knowledge and wish to make a difference in the world, Estrella’s passion for the ocean and for nature has taken her around the world. In 2017, Estrella travelled to the Maldives to complete her dive master certification. She promptly fell in love with the overwhelming magic of the Maldivian waters and the fragility of the islands. She then moved to Malaysia for a while, where she worked as a Dive Master and co-managed a Turtle Watch Conservation Project. Estrella also performed preliminary research on black-tip reef sharks and corals, and contributed to the local sea turtle photo-ID database.

After a stint working as Dive Master and Conservation Educator in a diving camp for kids in the Canary Islands, Estrella headed back to the Maldives. As the Marine Biologist and Environmental Officer at Constance Moofushi in South Ari Atoll, her job included managing a coral restoration project. In December 2020 Estrella joined ORP as a Sea Turtle Biologist in North Malé Atoll. She is based at One & Only Reethi Rah where she will look after the Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Centre. In addition she will carry out sea turtle population research and educational outreach.