Hi Marinela, could you tell us more about your first memory of the Ocean?
These are the questions I can remember asking when I was really young: ‘How does living with the dolphins look like? Can I stay at the back of a marine turtle while swimming? Can we live in Karaburun? Who is living in Sazan?’. I have always shown interest about marine biology like big mammals, corals, wildlife in underwater caves and the history of our region. Before going to sleep or during our long days near the ocean, my father answered my silly and bizarre questions. Later on, documentaries, books and magazines were the guiders for my trip into the ocean. They helped me to dream big about the ocean and little did I know at the time, that it would become such a big part of my life.
I showed special interest about Karaburun Peninsula and Sazani Island, both lying in front of our beautiful city. At that time, accessing these territories was almost impossible. Sazani Island was a military base since the communist regime. Soldiers were living in that small island together with their families and were allowed to access the mainland only in case of special occasions. After the communist regime, the island still was the military’s territory. After many years it is finally opened for public and tourists nowadays. There, the time has stood still.
The same with Karaburun Peninsula. After the communist regime, accessing the peninsula was only possible through the sea. Just at the beginning of the peninsula another military base exists and a military checkpoint prevents accessing the peninsula from the mainland. There are no habitants. The peninsula is under protection as a managed reserve, while the military base is very near. We don’t know the future interaction between the military and the protected area administrators, but until recently the military base has played a crucial role protecting the marine park and the managed reserve from uncontrolled human activities. The landscape is a combination of wild nature and bunkers, which in my opinion it is a live museum of nature and history.
What does the ocean mean to you today?
After my graduation in biology, I used every opportunity to stay close to the sea; by working, volunteering, learning, exploring and teaching about it. I’ve always felt a strong connection with the ocean, and even more now that I live far away from it. The ocean gives me a feeling of strength and joy and it amazes me to know that there is a big, blue world right next to us.