Leila brings a wealth of experience in marine biology and a deep commitment to ocean conservation and public engagement. Her journey from marine ecologist to science communicator offers unique insights into bridging the gap between scientific knowledge and community awareness.

In our conversation, Leila shares her passion for nature, particularly the ocean, and her dedication to fostering ocean awareness through initiatives like #SeaTheBiggerPicture and her role at UCT-MARIS. She highlights the importance of connecting diverse communities with marine science and conservation efforts. We delve into the concept of ocean cultures, a term evolving from ocean literacy to encompass a broader understanding of the ocean's influence on society and vice versa. Leila explains how this shift in terminology reflects the rich tapestry of beliefs, traditions, and interactions that shape people's relationship with the ocean, especially in South Africa.

Despite South Africa's coastal abundance, Leila notes the disparities in ocean access and perception among different populations. While some communities rely on the ocean for their livelihoods and spiritual practices, others face barriers like limited swimming skills or geographic distance from the coast.

Leila - STBP 2
Leila - STBP 1

Turning to AtlantECO's contributions, Leila discusses ongoing efforts to enhance ocean literacy and engagement in South Africa. From developing educational resources to assessing marine science curricula, AtlantECO aims to bridge the gap between scientific knowledge and local needs.

Leila emphasizes the importance of collaboration and cultural sensitivity in promoting ocean stewardship. By fostering dialogue between scientists, educators, and communities, AtlantECO seeks to empower individuals to become advocates for marine conservation. With continued effort and collaboration, we can nurture a deeper connection to the ocean and ensure its protection for generations to come.

Listen to the podcast on Spotify here.


For more information, please contact Leila Nefdt via email: comms.maris@uct.ac.za.