ABOUT

ME

"As long as I am breathing I will try to make a difference!"
Christine Figgener (TIME Magzine)
Passionate About Inspiring Others

I am a marine conservation biologist and ocean advocate that is passionate about conserving marine turtles, fighting ocean plastic pollution, and empowering women in STEM.

I have been working with sea turtles and cetaceans in Central America for over a decade, where I have been applying my research findings to the conservation of these charismatic animals. To foster awareness, I am using my study subjects as ocean ambassadors to connect people to our oceans. I am in particular interested in highlighting the threats our oceans and its inhabitants are facing, and the difference each and every one of us can make by changing daily habits.

I hold a PhD from Texas A&M University's Marine Biology ID Graduate Program, where I studied the trophic and movement ecology of marine turtles for my dissertation, and I am still actively involved in sea turtle research and conservation efforts with my two non-profit organisations Namaka Conservation Science and Costa Rican Alliance for Sea Turtle Conservation & Science (COASTS). My mission is to strengthen grassroots marine turtle conservation efforts by developing and executing projects and training and empowering local conservationists and scientists, with a special emphasis on local women.

 

My claim to fame and shining public moment is a viral video I filmed and uploaded in 2015 that documents the removal of a plastic straw from a marine turtle's nose by my research team. That video was a catalyst for the global anti-straw movement, leading to several straw bans by businesses such as Starbucks, Disney, and Alaska Airlines. It has also provided a valuable tool and me a voice in the conversation around the use of single-use plastics and other environmental issues affecting marine life.

 

My research and advocacy efforts have been featured in different documentary productions, such as the BBC and National Geographic. Because of my advocacy work, I was recently named a Next Generation Leader by TIME Magazine and was a finalist of the feature Texan of the Year by the Dallas Morning News.

So while the video might be years old at this point, my research, campaign against single-use plastics for the benefit and conservation of marine life, and the empowerment of women in STEM are still young, important, and necessary.

Scientific Publications

Figgener C, Bernardo J, Plotkin PT (2019). Beyond trophic morphology: stable isotopes reveal ubiquitous versatility in marine turtle trophic ecology. Biological Reviews. 94, 1947-1973

Figgener C, Bernardo J, Plotkin PT (2019). MarTurtSI, a global database of stable isotope analyses of marine turtles. Scientific Data. 6: 16

Figgener C, Beck E, Dunlop D, Castillo-MacCarthy A (2018). Loxocemus bicolor. Diet. Herpetological Review. 49(1):133

 

Robinson NJ, Figgener C, Gatto C, Lazo-Wasem EA, Paladino FV, Santidrian Tomillo P, Zardus JD, Pinou T (2017). Assessing potential limitations when characterising the epibiota of marine megafauna: Effect of gender, sampling location, and inter-annual variation on the epibiont communities of olive ridley sea turtles. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. 497:71-77

 

Figgener C, Chacón D, Jensen M, Feldhaar H (2016). Paternity re-visited in a recovering population of Caribbean leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. 475:114-123 

 

Robinson NJ & Figgener C (2015). Plastic straw found inside the nostril of an olive ridley turtle. Marine Turtle Newsletter. 147:5-6 

 

Oviedo L, Herra-Miranda D, Pacheco-Polanco JD, Figgener C, Márquez-Artavia A, Quirós-Pereira W, Iñiguez M (2015). Diversidad de cetáceos en el paisaje marino costero de Golfo Dulce, Península de Osa, Costa Rica. Revista de Biología Tropical. 63 (Suppl.1):395-406 

Pacheco-Polanco JD, Herra-Miranda D, Oviedo L, Quirós-Pereira W, Figgener C (2015). Agregaciones de Alimentación del Tiburón Ballena Rhincodon typus, SMITH 1828 (Orectolobiformes: Rhincodontidae) en la cuenca interna de Golfo Dulce, Península de Osa, Costa Rica. Revista de Biología Tropical. 63 (Suppl.1):299-306
 
 

Scientific Reports & Conference Presentations

Figgener C, Bernardo J, Plotkin PT (2019). Spatial modelling used to identify and characterize oceanic areas of conservation importance for the Eastern Pacific olive ridley turtle, Lepidochelys olivacea. Oral Presentation. 39th International Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation, Charleston, USA

Figgener C, Bernardo J, Reich K, Plotkin PT (2018). Divergent nesting behaviour linked to differences in foraging behaviour of female olive ridley sea turtles nesting on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica elucidated with stable isotope analysis. Oral Presentation. 38th International Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation, Kobe, Japan

Figgener C, Bernardo J, Reich K, Plotkin PT (2018). Successful use of the IRIDIUM satellite system to study the fine-scale movements of internesting marine turtles. Poster Presentation. 38th International Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation, Kobe, Japan

Figgener C, Bernardo J, Reich K, Plotkin PT (2017). Trophic ecology of the olive ridley sea turtle in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. Poster Presentation. 37th International Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation, Las Vegas, USA
    
Figgener C, Bernardo J, Plotkin PT (2016). Sexual dimorphism & sexual selection in Lepidochelys olivacea. Oral Presentation. 36th International Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation, Lima, Peru

Figgener C, Bernardo J, Plotkin PT (2016). Sexual dimorphism in Lepidochelys olivacea. Poster Presentation. IDP MARB Retreat, Corpus Christi, USA

Figgener C, Castillo-MacCarthy A, Mora-Sandoval J, Argüello-Gomez Y, Quiros-Peirera W (2014). Raising the hatching success of leatherback nests at the olive ridley mass-nesting beach Ostional (Guanacaste, Costa Rica). Oral Presentation. 34th International Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation, New Orleans, USA

Márquez-Artavia A, Oviedo L, Herra-Miranda D, Pacheco-Polanco JD, Quirós-Pereira W, Silva-Hernandez MG, Figgener C (2012). The utilization distribution of humpback whales in Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica. International Whaling Commission (IWC). Report of the Scientific Committee. SC/64/015

Oviedo L, Herra-Miranda D, Pacheco-Polanco JD, Márquez-Artavia A, Quirós-Pereira W, Silva-Hernandez MG, Figgener C (2012). The critical foraging habitats of coastal bottlenose and pantropical spotted dolphins in Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica. International Whaling Commission (IWC). Report of the Scientific Committee. SC/64/SM10 

Figgener C, Quiros-Pereira W (2011, 2012, 2013). Leatherback and Pacific Green Sea Turtle Research and Conservation Project Ostional – Nesting-Season 2010/11 (2011/12, 2012/13). Technical Report for MINAE/SINAC

Figgener C, MacCarthy A, Chacón D, and Feldhaar H (2010). Re-assessment of mating strategies of Caribbean leatherback turtles. Poster Presentation. 30th International Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation, San Diego, USA

Figgener C (2010). Paternity study and population genetics on the Caribbean Leatherback sea turtle population (Dermochelys coriacea) in Costa Rica. Master’s Thesis, Julius-Maximilians-University Wuerzburg Germany. ProQuest 175251699.

Figgener C (2009). Monitoring of the nesting activities of the Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) and the Green turtle (Chelonia mydas) at Playa Gandoca, Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, Costa Rica from August until October 2009. Technical Report for MINAE/SINAC

Figgener C (2005). Size does matter – clients’ choice of cleaning stations of the cleaner wrasse Labroides dimidiatus in the Red Sea. Senior Project. Eberhard-Karls-University Tuebingen, Germany