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Accepted Paper:

Rooted Resilience? Caring for Seagrasses in Mexico  
Laura Otto (Julius-Maximilians-University Würzburg) Ramona Haegele (Julius-Maximilians-University Würzburg)

Paper Short Abstract:

The Riviera Maya faces climate challenges, with Sargassum algae threatening seagrasses. Scientists turn this into an opportunity, advocating seagrass care through multi-species interactions, highlighting their dedication to addressing climate change and enriching discussions on Anthropocene ethics.

Paper Abstract:

The Mexican Riviera Maya is known throughout the world for its beaches and crystal-clear waters. Since the 1970s the area has strategically been transformed into ‘tourist paradise’, yearly attracting millions of travelers. What most people – both, locals and tourists – do not know is how important seagrasses are for sustaining 'paradise'. Currently, the region is experiencing escalating climate change challenges, of which the most prominent one is the arrival of Sargassum algae in atypical amounts. The algae contribute to destroying seagrasses and put the local ecosystem to the test. At the same time, Sargassum – thinking with a multi-species approach – generates new human-seagrass relations. The paper explores these dynamics by examining these emerging relations of diverse ocean creatures with a focus on the role natural scientists play here. While these actors interpret Sargassum as a pressing, and indeed threatening, change along the coast, they yet make use of the algae arrival to promote seagrasses, and the care for them. They do so, we argue, through interactions with other species, restoration, and the generation of attention for a supposedly uncharismatic ocean creature. By sharing their love and enthusiasm for seagrasses, natural scientists in Mexico have developed new practices of care for the coast, assume responsibility for anthropogenic climate change in their everyday work and life, and help us understand ethics in the Anthropocene beyond normative answers, instead looking at how different actors negotiate between conflicting opinions and practices on what may be good for the future of the region.

Panel OP120
Caring for ocean creatures
  Session 1 Thursday 18 July, 2024, -