CHRISTINE FIGGENER, PhD (Managing Director)
As Director of COASTS, Christine is responsible for administration, international relations, and fundraising. Furthermore, she oversees our projects' scientific and conservation focus.
Christine is a marine biologist and science communicator, originally from Germany. She started working in sea turtle research and conservation in Costa Rica in 2007 and has led numerous projects since. In particular, she has been studying and protecting different populations of leatherback, green, hawksbill, and olive ridley turtles on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. Christine holds a Master’s degree in biology from the University of Würzburg in Germany and a PhD in marine biology from Texas A&M University in the USA. Christine was named a Next Generation Leader by TIME magazine in 2018 for her advocacy work concerning ocean plastic pollution.
Her personal mission is to protect the local sea turtle populations and gather new knowledge to make their protection more efficient. To accomplish that, she knows that only by generating a cultural shift among the local stakeholders through the direct involvement of locals and education of the next generation, conservation efforts will become sustainable eventually. More information about her and her work can be found on her personal website, www.seaturtlebiologist.com
ARIANA OPORTA, BSc (Education & Outreach Officer)
Ariana is responsible for the Environmental Education & Outreach Program. In 2023, she received a New England Aquarium MCAF grant to support her efforts.
She grew up with sea turtles and their conservation in Gandoca, a small town on the Southern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. As the first (and so far, only) member of her small community, she earned a degree in marine biology. She received a scholarship to study at the Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica where she graduated with her Bachelor's in 2013. Ariana is currently working to complete her thesis for her Licenciatura, for which she studied the effects of the invasive lionfish populations on the local coral reefs in Costa Rica’s Caribbean. She collaborated with the fisheries community of Manzanillo to collect her data and helped to implement measures to eradicate the existing lionfish populations. Ariana had further been involved for many years with the Corridor Biologico Talamanca where she helped with community outreach and environmental education. Since 2014, she has been using her contacts and acquired skills to represent COASTS as president and also build up the Environmental Education & Outreach Program for COASTS.