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November 11, 2017

World Science Day for Peace and Development

All the knowledge that human beings have developed through science, extend today to many activities of importance to society and nature, such as technology, medicine, sustainability and conservation, among other aspects.

Since 2001, UNESCO has celebrated the World Science Day for Peace and Development, with the aim to promote and manage responsibly scientific knowledge for the benefit of society and the planet, such as the environment on which we depend.

Much of the knowledge about the biology, physiology, health and reproduction of marine mammals, has been learned thanks to scientific studies carried out in facilities under human care, and, undoubtedly, the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) is the best known species, after more than 50 years of coexistence with human beings.

All the information collected in zoos is useful for the benefit of the conservation of wild marine mammals, as there may be difficulties in the realization of studies, mainly in the collection of information about specimens (biological sample collection, direct observations, control samples, adverse environmental conditions, among others). In this context, research on the intelligence, reproduction and health of these animals stand out.

Recently, this last aspect has gained relevance. Marine mammals are sentinels of the marine ecosystem; this means that they are indicators of the state of conservation of the aquatic environment, due to the fact that, by occupying the highest trophic levels (food chain), reflect possible problems in the environment, such as contamination by residues and hazardous chemicals, or the emergence and distribution of infectious diseases in the oceans. Their affected populations prompt us to the need of assessing all levels of organisms existing in the oceans.

In 1987, the Montreal Protocol was signed to prevent the use of chlorofluorocarbons that were used in common aerosols and refrigeration equipment, after the scientific community based on the data and research of the winners of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, among them, the Mexican scientist Mario Molina, located in these substances the origin of the damage to the upper layer of ozone that protects the earth from the ultraviolet radiation of the sun.

30 years after its application, scientists have observed that the weakening of the ozone layer begins to reverse, so this protocol is the best example of international cooperation based on science.

Climate change is another of the major issues that the scientific community has been discussing for some time, urging governments to act to prevent the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The marine environment and, therefore, its fauna, especially marine mammals as markers of the health of ecosystems, is one of the most affected, since the increase in the temperature of the planet, besides causing the melting of the poles and other large concentrations of frozen water, is acidifying the ocean by high concentrations of carbon dioxide, which causes the death of coral reefs, called whitening, which affects the entire food chain.

Humanity has the enormous challenge of reversing the damage it has caused on the planet and the oceans. Science can be the great ally to reach this higher goal. All of us, companies, citizens and governments play a greater or lesser role in the generation of science and in informed decision-making for the proper management of natural resources, on which the peaceful and integral development of future generations will depend.