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Future maritime professionals help in Amazon rainforest

If you are employed as a maritime worker, you have most likely heard of SUNY Maritime College in the Bronx. This venerable institution has been training future maritime professionals for nearly a century and a half. They offer students undergraduate and graduate programs in several forms of marine engineering, maritime transportation and marine environmental science.

Two students of the Marine Environmental Science program, Isaul Villaneuva and Mustafa Islam, recently got to experience what their future careers may entail – they spent time in the Amazon rainforest assisting in efforts to study and protect the diverse ecosystem.

Hands on where work is needed

By way of an innovative internship with the Panthera Sanctuary, the two students were able to spend time in the Madre de Dios region of Peru assisting with tracking and monitoring projects, photographed flora and fauna, compiled notes and other important tasks to the sanctuary.

SUNY Maritime College interviewed Villaneuva who stated that, “By 2020, the wild animal population is predicted to decline by two thirds. That honestly scares me and that’s what drew me to this internship. It’s important to create a safe space for millions of species to sustainably coexist. The first step to save the Amazon is creating reserves like this and encouraging people to see them for themselves.”

The students spent much of their time hiking through dense jungle or traveling on the powerful Amazon river itself. They were able to carry out several major projects, including establishing a sustainable farm; monitoring logging operations and preparing the sanctuary for the rainy season.

“At Maritime we focus on the marine part, but it’s important to focus on the terrestrial environment as well,” Villanueva said, poignantly. Maritime workers rarely spend 100 percent of their time working on the water, and like them, paying attention to the environment of the land and water is vital.

The future of the reserve

These students’ excursion into the jungle is a reminder of how varied the maritime industry can be. Maritime shipping and transportation is vital to the world economy and consumers everywhere, but it is only one part of the trade. Future marine scientists and conservators can count themselves among the patchwork of maritime professionals.

Villaneuva and Islam standout at the first two students to ever take internships with the Panthera Sanctuary. The sanctuary has been establishing itself since 2013 and appears to be growing in both reach and scope. With any luck it will continue to offer opportunities to students interested in the maritime industry.

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