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Chris among plastic from sea turtle stom

CHRISTINE FIGGENER, PhD (Vice-President & Founder)

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. As Director of COASTS, she is responsible for administration, international relations, and fundraising. Furthermore, she oversees our projects' scientific and conservation focus. 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,


ARIANA OPORTA, BSc (President & Co-Founder)

Ariana 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 the Environmental Education & Outreach Program for COASTS.


ANDREY MACCARTHY (Treasurer & Founding Member)

Andrey has worked in sea turtle conservation since he was a teenager. Over the years, he has led different projects on the Caribbean and Pacific coast and has by now accumulated almost two decades of experience in applied sea turtle research and conservation techniques. His focus these days is the quality control and improvement of existing applied conservation techniques (e.g., he developed a sand-cleaning-technique for a hatchery on a beach with low hatching success that raised the success by over 50%). Due to his ample experience, he now often consults for other projects on implemented conservation measures and trains their staff members. 


YURI MACCARTHY, BA (Founding Member)

Yuri also grew up in Gandoca and has been heavily involved in community development since a young age. Unsurprisingly, she first chose to study social work before switching over to a career as an English teacher. Yuri’s main interest is furthering the development of small communities by creating economic opportunities through ecotourism, capacity building, and conservation of local resources. Yuri's specialities are mediation, communication, and outreach activities meant to shift local perspectives on existing resources.


EDUARDO RANGEL (Founding Member)

Rangel grew up in Caribbean Costa Rica and dedicated his first career to carpentry before discovering his love for sea turtles. He left Costa Rica for a few years to live in France before returning to his homeland and his turtles. Rangel is our handyman and consults on all things sea turtle conservation and construction necessities.


DANILO CASTILLO, MA (Founding Member)

Danilo is a jack-of-all-trades but an educator by heart. After leaving Gandoca and starting a career in law enforcement he discovered his love for ecotourism and studied with the Costa Rican Instituto Nacional de Aprendizaje (INA) and the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT) to become a certified nature guide. He worked in that capacity for several years before he went back to school once again to become a teacher. His goal was to teach in the most remote indigenous communities in Costa Rica. His goal is to improve the livelihood of rural communities by improving the quality of public education and by providing additional income through ecotourism. After moving to the USA, Danilo recently founded a social enterprise to organise ecotourism opportunities for the community of Gandoca.

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