The Story of MCCR

The Story of MCCR

The Story of MCCR 

Making the World a Better Place For All of Us

Marine life in Costa Rica - school of fish
Marine Conservation Costa Rica Team - Geotgia King and Katharine Evans

Meet Geo and Kat – an interview with the brilliant minds behind MCCR!

Marine Conservation Costa Rica (‘MCCR’) was founded by two best friends, Georgia “Geo” King and Katharine “Kat” Evans, in 2019. Their story is highly intriguing. This article based on individual interviews with the duo will enable you to get to know them and the story of MCCR a bit better!

 

Diving into the brains behind MCCR 

Geo

Geo and Kat are both originally from the UK and have been living in Costa Rica for 18 and 21 years, respectively. Geo first came to Costa Rica as she was completing her project for her masters degree. She then lived in Honduras for the first couple years after graduating and worked as a dive instructor before moving to Costa Rica and settling there. In 2009 Geo completed her course director program to be able to focus on developing the professional dive area in the country. Since then, she has been working as the manager and director of training of the Oceans Unlimited dive centre and finally took over ownership in November of 2022. Simultaneously, as co-founder of MCCR, Geo runs the dive centre and is responsible for the logistics and business side of things, that include brainstorming new projects, looking for ways to expand and exploring new avenues regarding fundraising.

KAT

Kat first came to Costa Rica in 2001 for a six month contract as a translator and project leader for a youth development charity working on environmental and adventure projects throughout Costa Rica and Nicaragua. During that time, she fell in love with Central America and ended up settling in Costa Rica. Kat has a BSc in Environmental Biology and has “worn many hats” throughout her career and has been a scientific officer, adventure guide, dive instructor,  and environmental consultant,, before taking on her role as co-founder and lead biologist on the coral restoration project at MCCR. Kat is also takes a lead in community outreach programs and heads up the coral restoration interns and researchers..

The ‘Birth’ of MCCR…

Geo and Kat have known each other long before they founded MCCR together in 2019. They worked together in a dive shop and grew increasingly frustrated with difficulties regarding the implementation of various projects and reef restoration. They wanted to achieve more and came to the realisation that if they wanted to see a serious change and restore the reef and local area, they would need to take matters into their own hands and take a leap of faith by creating the non-profit in Manuel Antonio.

And working together

Both Geo and Kat had little to no concerns at all about starting an organisation together, as, at that point, they had known each other for over 15 years. Of course, they were aware that working with someone can sometimes change or strain a friendship, but the fact that they knew each other so well, knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses and went through a multitude of life changing events together such as kids, friendships and loss, already set them up for success. Geo and Kat never strictly defined their roles in the organisation, they just “fell into place” and each co-founder now has different areas of responsibility, where they don’t get “into each other’s pockets”, which is one of the reasons why they think they get on so well.

MCCR is still a very young organisation, especially when taking the pandemic into account. The organisation’s main mission is to foster marine conservation through education and action. Currently, there are two main projects that are being developed.

The coral restoration project is the main focus of MCCR that deals with growing coral fragments in ocean nurseries and later outplanting them into the reef. The local reef remains closely monitored to observe any changes and developments stemming from the coral restoration project, and there are hopes to soon expand into a new permanent reef structure project. The positive impact that the project has already had on increasing the biodiversity and abundance of fish species shows the true importance of keeping it up and running.

Furthermore, MCCR engages in environmental education, focusing on teaching school children in various classes at local schools to increase awareness and knowledge on marine conservation topics and problems. Additionally, the non-profit also runs kids camps, organises regular community education talks and workshops, as well as courses for adults about coral restoration and reef research survey techniques.



MCCR is increasingly welcoming interns and volunteers to help with various aspects of the organisation. Since the organisation is still so young, the help that is provided by the interns is very greatly appreciated and is used to help the organisation grow and expand to be able to create a bigger impact. Kat emphasises that it has been a great experience so far and that they “have had so many amazing passionate students. It’s been fantastic to carry out more research into wider areas on the reef, it’s very exciting”.

Geo notes that one of the aspects that is especially great about being an intern at MCCR is that the interns get housed with local families in the area, all located near each other. The community and friendships that are formed among interns and their host families are priceless and have proven to make for an unforgettable experience for all interns who come to Quepos.

Since MCCR is a non-profit organisation, it relies heavily on funding from running the various courses, the successful “adopt a coral” program and donations from a couple of local companies.

The Effect of the Pandemic.

As with almost everywhere around the globe, the pandemic greatly affected MCCR and “slammed the brakes on everything”. Initially, Geo and Kat were not allowed to take trips out to the coral nurseries to check on their younglings. Even though this caused some rather large worries in the beginning, everything worked out well and all corals were alive and well.

On the other hand, Geo believes the pandemic might have even helped the organisation in some ways. It taught people to think outside the box and many people had the chance to reflect and think about spending their time more meaningfully by giving back. Organisations like MCCR, became more visible and therefore also gained more traction and support. The pandemic also demonstrated even more how people can make a difference, for example with the impact of less traffic and travel.

What the Future could look like.

Geo and Kat are thrilled with what they have been able to achieve so far in the few years since founding MCCR. The projects are gathering momentum and, with the new additions of permanent staff, the duo is very hopeful and excited to expand their organisation. Some goals they have set are to develop an education centre to be able to reach a wider audience, enhance the local volunteer program,  set in motion the permanent reef structure project, expand coral nurseries and start growing corals in tanks on land to have even more of an impact.

When asked about their attitude and outlook on climate change and the current state of the environment, both Geo and Kat agreed that even if we might not be able to reverse climate change, we are still able to slow and stop it.

Kat states:I think we can make a change, if each individual can do just one thing, it will make a difference, we don’t have to be perfect eco-warriors, it’s everyone’s responsibility. The time to make a difference is right now, even the smallest thing can help conserve our beautiful planet.

Geo has a similar take saying that everything you do, no matter how small you believe it is, can have a big impact. Watching the reef change for the better here in Manuel Antonio over this short period of time has shown me that.



Stay connected with MCCR and follow or support all the exciting achievements that are yet to come!

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

6 things to reduce your ocean impact – even if you’re miles away from the blue

6 things to reduce your ocean impact – even if you’re miles away from the blue

What does it take to save an ocean?

Scientists will hand you their most scholarly answers based off of their scientific research and try to explain it in a very complex way. But, when it comes down to it, the answer is simply us collectively acknowledging our environmental impact and agreeing to change. The keyword in any environmental discussion these days is change. But how? The change takes you and it takes me. Whether you are based off the coastline or thousands of miles away from the nearest ocean, you matter.

Living in a landlocked state

Growing up in a landlocked state, conversations involving ocean depletion were not all too common. It wasn’t until I moved to a beach town that I was truly introduced to the issues concerning the health of the ocean. And really, the overall planet. Now, as a college graduate with a degree in Marine Environmental Science, I am surrounded and almost engulfed by the global issues. It makes me wonder how I didn’t know about all of this before. I recently asked those in my life that aren’t surrounded by a body of water. They don’t have lives dedicated to environmental studies, so what were their views on ocean related topics and their involvement. It blew my mind that the majority of the answers I received, were that they believed their actions did not have any effect on the ocean.

To be honest, growing up, my first thought when I got in the car or bought a single use plastic bottle wasn’t that I was affecting the ocean. It wasn’t until I was educated on human’s impacts that I realized we are all truly connected and dependent. Now that I am aware, I can’t turn back. I will educate others on the dramatic effects we as humans have on the matter and what we can do to change it no matter where we are.

Here are a few ways you can help the ocean whether you are near it or not:

Change your carbon footprint

walk to work

To reduce your ocean impact you can ride the bus or use public transportation. Why not use a bike or walk: The atmosphere is warming at an alarming rate due to our carbon footprint. The ocean collects the heat and without the ocean, we would be in huge trouble. The collected heat then causes marine life (especially coral) to suffer. Your personal decision to limit the amount of energy contributes to the overall effort to stop climate change.

Support environmental organizations or organizations that support environmental movements:

If you are not near an ocean, donations are greatly appreciated as well as purchasing environmentally safe products that support good causes. Nonprofit organizations are incredible and your contribution, no matter how big or small, matters. Financial contributions are a great way to feel involved and connected.

Coral restoration in Costa Rica

Where does your food come from?

Know where your food is coming from: check the labels and restaurants. Are they getting their seafood from a sustainable resource? Much of the ocean’s threat is a result from overfishing and fishing through unacceptable practices including long lining which ultimately kills bycatch such as sea turtles and sharks.

Plastic, plastic, plastic

Plastic after a dive againest debris

Reduce your use of plastic: Plastic and microplastic are two contributors to the destruction of our oceans and its marine life. Rivers and storm drains carry an enormous amount of trash into the ocean which ends up ingested by fish and much more. To cut back on the amount of plastic used, start carrying a recycled grocery bag to the store instead of using several plastic bags from your items. Use a reusable water bottle instead of single use plastic water bottles that come in plastic packaging. Bring your own to-go containers instead of the boxes they hand you at restaurants. Ultimately, become aware. Start noticing the amount of plastic that is so commonly used and get creative to come up with ways to reuse.

Use your voice

Vote to reduce your ocean impact: Vote on ocean related issues. You have a voice and your opinion matters. Voting and signing petitions grabs the attention of those who are able to actively do greater things for our planet. Use your power to take a stand and join the effort.

Keep yourself informed

Stay educated: You can reduce your ocean impact if you educate yourself on global and local environmental issues. The planet is connected and your local environment matters globally. Discuss these issues with friends or family and get involved. Watch documentaries and read the articles. Scientists and divers are out in the water seeing it with their own eyes and they have a lot to say. Listen. Being aware and acknowledging the issue will inspire others to get involved as well.

One of my favorite scientists and ocean explorers Dr. Sylvia Earle once said “No water, no life. No blue, no green”.

Kaitlyn Loucks – MCCR writer