Your focus has been on creatures in the intertidal zones, and that is the same space that is being landfilled for city development. This disrupts their habitats significantly. Does MLOM work towards spreading awareness regarding this as well?
As I mentioned in the answer to the previous question, we have on the whole focused on showing people the biodiversity here. The development and other alterations happening to the space are very visible and are amplified really well by the individuals and organisations working with us, so we have chosen to focus more on our direct aims. Between giving people a first-hand experience of the habitat, and the open-access documentation platforms we use, the vast majority of audiences understand things themselves, without having to be told about it. That said, some of our citizen-driven work has indeed been used as a base by others who are more directly involved in conservation practice.
It is said that awareness is the first step to conservation and that it is every citizen’s responsibility to be part of the conservation efforts – please share a few impact stories of the work you have been doing at MLOM.
It’s hard for me to pinpoint particular impact stories, actually! The entire course of our work has been a continuous (still ongoing) process of learning bit by bit. Our open-access data has been used by students, conservationists and educators, and our walks and other outreach initiatives have reached people of various ages and backgrounds. A lot of media persons have covered our initiative, not just by getting to know our work but by actually stepping on the seashores with us and experiencing it for themselves. Personally for me, however, the most impactful moments are when we introduce a newcomer to this world of intertidal wildlife, and when we witness the moment that person gets hooked!
Do you feel you have personally grown because of the work you do with MLOM?
Definitely. Before MLOM, I used to focus mainly on pure research, and hardly dabbled in outreach at all.
“MLOM has made me see the importance and the sheer joy of involving a large community in understanding more about wildlife.”
It has also opened my eyes to the wide gap that lies between research and public knowledge and has made me engage in all of these activities with enthusiasm. I have now been largely focusing on improving my own outreach skills as a result, and I’m loving it.
What is next for MLOM?
MLOM runs as a sort of free-flowing model, and it will continue to do so. We have been derailed a bit by the long lockdown last year and another one now, so a lot of our audience has been missing the usual activities. We hope to get back to that in full strength, and as always, are open to new team members and their ideas! Through CCF, we have conducted a few educational activities and hope to do much more on that front, along with research.