Larissa Vidal Melo

Larissa studies ecology and already stands out with her impactful conservation work. Her research focuses on the acoustic refuge of Guiana dolphins in a Marine Protected Area. Beyond research, she excels in environmental education through games and marine content sharing. Larissa's dedication, recognized with the Luísa Award, aligns with her dream of being a marine biologist, driving her to contribute significantly to marine conservation. She seeks to enrich her expertise through Darwin200, sharing insights and collaborating for a sustainable future.

Larissa is a student at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) with a focus on Ecology. She has been actively involved in various conservation projects as a member of the Marine Ecology and Conservation Laboratory (ECoMAR). Larissa's primary project, "Searching for a quiet place: Marine protected area as an acoustic refuge not effective for Guiana dolphins," examines the effectiveness of a Marine Protected Area (MPA) located at Sepetiba Bay, Rio de Janeiro, as an acoustic refuge for Guiana dolphins (Sotalia guianensis), a vulnerable species in Brazilian waters. Through this project, Larissa has gained extensive fieldwork experience, working on a boat and operating equipment such as SoundTraps, GPS devices, and cameras to collect audio data and capture images of the species she studies. Additionally, she has participated in visual monitoring of Guiana dolphin populations and the collection of acoustic and spatial data for Bryde's whales in Búzios' open sea.
START DATE: 3rd September LOCATION: Cape Verde AREA OF STUDY: Sharks and rays
END DATE: 11th September Representing: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil SPONSOR: TPP
START DATE: 3rd September
END DATE: 11th September
LOCATION: Cape Verde
END POINT: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
AREA OF STUDY: Sharks and rays

Beyond her research, Larissa actively contributes to environmental education efforts through her participation in the environmental education team of her laboratory. She designs games and engaging activities that promote conservation and marine ecosystems in public spaces and schools, including those in the local communities of Sepetiba and Ilha Grande Bays. She also shares educational content on marine life and conservation through her laboratory’s Instagram account. Larissa’s dedication to marine conservation is exemplified by her involvement in projects that aim to analyze the interactions between Guiana dolphins and traditional fishing, as well as her participation in the rescue and rehabilitation of marine fauna at Instituto Biopesca (Biopesca Institute).
Larissa’s scientific contributions include conference papers focusing on the effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas, the knowledge of high school students about marine ecosystems and conservation, and the evaluation of marine protected areas towards endangered cetaceans. She has actively participated in conferences and events related to marine biology and bioacoustics, gaining valuable knowledge and insights from experts in the field. Her remarkable work and commitment have been recognized through the Luísa Award, which honors undergraduate students who make notable contributions to biodiversity conservation.

Driven by her childhood dream of becoming a marine biologist, Larissa is passionate about fighting for the protection of marine life and habitats. She aspires to contribute to the field of acoustics for conservation, particularly in Brazilian coastal areas where data and research are lacking. Larissa views participation in the Darwin 200 project as an opportunity to enhance her knowledge in conservation through interaction with other participants and Darwin Leaders. She hopes to learn from their experiences, innovative approaches, and different perspectives. In return, she is eager to share her experiences, knowledge, and resources with other participants, including equipment, audio data analysis software, and insights into projects being developed in Rio de Janeiro.

Larissa’s vision for the future involves continuing her studies in acoustics for conservation and addressing the gaps and deficiencies in data within the field, especially in Brazilian coastal areas. She aims to contribute to the development of effective conservation plans and measures, providing valuable data for Marine Protected Areas and fostering the implementation of new conservation initiatives. Larissa’s determination to make a positive impact and her dedication to sharing knowledge and experiences make her an invaluable asset to the Darwin 200 project and the broader conservation community.

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