Terry Gosliner, PhD
Senior Curator of Invertebrate Zoology and Geology
Terry Gosliner is still exploring the rich coastlines of the Philippines after 23 years of professional peaks and valleys in the region. From marveling at the resiliency of dynamited reefs rebounding in Marine Protected Areas to grappling with devastating after-effects of typhoons, Gosliner has packed several lifetimes’ worth of scientifically significant moments into little more than two decades. With an eye on preserving these priceless—and threatened—marine ecosystems for future generations, he says Academy researchers and Filipino partners are just getting started.
“The results are in—these are the most biologically diverse waters in the world,” says Gosliner of the Philippines’ Verde Island Passage—the focus of multiple Academy expeditions. “We also know that protecting these coral reefs is absolutely critical to human survival. We’re continuously learning how to better support Filipino efforts to fortify their coastal ecosystems, feed their families, and train the next generation of environmental stewards.”
To avoid the pitfalls of traditional natural history surveys, Gosliner—a principal investigator of the Academy’s Philippine expeditions—helps combine hard-hitting science with collaborative outreach to local communities and key decision makers.
In 2013, the Batangas provincial legislature voted unanimously to create a Coastal Ecosystems Development Plan in order to protect their vital marine habitats, and worked with the Academy to pinpoint key areas for conservation efforts.
“We can’t just accept that making scientific discoveries is ‘enough,’” Gosliner says. “We have an obligation to explain their relevance. We need to find more ways to transfer scientific findings to the public so that we can positively impact public policy and conservation management—especially now, when the natural world is changing so rapidly.”
SEA Institute Solutions
Gosliner is hard at work helping to launch the SEA Institute, a years-in-the-making result of partnerships with Filipino conservationists and the ABS-CBN Foundation’s Green Initiative. The new organization’s trifold mission—science, education, and advocacy (SEA) in the Verde Island Passage—is an embodiment of the Academy’s model for supporting homegrown advocacy and community outreach. The Institute recently hired its inaugural director, Alain Maulion, a Philippine native who will oversee the first few years of work protecting the Passage.
“The coral reefs in the Philippines are in better shape today than they were when I first began diving there,” Gosliner says. “They are surprisingly resilient. Our collaborative efforts in the Philippines show that we can protect these habitats. If we can halt damaging activities such as dynamite fishing and pollution run-off, marine habitats and local communities will have hope for a more sustainable future.”
Department: Invertebrate Zoology and Geology
Title: Senior Curator of Invertebrate Zoology and Geology
"Scientist at Work" blog, The New York Times
"From Beautiful Nudibranchs to Coral Graveyards: Marine Research in the Indian and Pacific Oceans," The Huffington Post
The Wild World of Undersea Worms, Fora TV