Test Design Lighthouse


A New Main Exhibition at the 'Ecocentro Puerto Madryn'

The House on the Cliff

The EcoCentro in Puerto Madryn, Patagonia, Argentina, represents the first and only centre in Argentina that is exclusively devoted to education relating to marine ecosystems, having the Southwest Atlantic marine ecosystem as its centrepiece. Inaugurated in June 2000, the EcoCentro is a non-profit institution that promotes a more harmonious and balanced way of interacting with the marine environment, towards ensuring the protection of the oceans and the sustainable use of marine natural resources.

 

The building with a base of 1,800 m² is located on a cliff overlooking the ocean and the city of Puerto Madryn. It was funded from private sources; the city of Puerto Madryn kindly donated the land, and the EcoCentro undertook the commitment to provide free educational programmes to local schools.

 

Puerto Madryn is a coastal city in Patagonia with a population of about 70,000, and provides the basis for the principal tourist activities in coastal Patagonia. The Peninsula Valdés, only 100 km away from Puerto Madryn, was added to Unesco's World Heritage List in 1999, as a site of global significance for the conservation of marine mammals. The protected area is the main tourist attraction of the region and the best place to encounter Southern right whales, elephant seals, sea lions, and Magellan penguins. Thus, due to its strategic position, the EcoCentro is in a unique position to educate local and international visitors about the ocean and raise awareness on marine conservation issues.

 

 

Programmatic areas: Education, Science, and Arts

 

The tower rises like a lighthouse, directing the attention towards the horizon.
The exhibition invites the visitors to become acquainted with the patagonean coast and marine life.

The understanding of how all species and processes are interconnected in the marine ecosystem becomes crucial for the development of an active and responsible public opinion that looks at the long term, overcoming individualism. Through its exhibits, the EcoCentro presents effective, honest and accurate information on marine environmental issues. In addition, the objective of the EcoCentro is also to awaken imagination and to encourage visitors to discover by themselves the wonders of the marine realm.

 

Since its opening, the EcoCentro has developed numerous activities in three different programmatic areas: Education, Science, and Arts.

 

The Members of the EcoCentro are very active in developing the ‘Educational programme’ directed at students that come to Puerto Madryn within the scope of so-called "educational trips". Special school programmes are being developed and adapted according to needs and educational background. Over the last four years, approximately 42,000 children visited the EcoCentro, taking part in different educational units.

 

Under the ‘Science Programme’, marine research projects with a naturalist approach are conducted. In addition, the Members of the Science Programme are concerned with transferring scientific information to the public. Permanent and temporary exhibitions, workshops, presentations or publications represent a great opportunity to draw people's attention to particularly relevant issues and to ocean conservation in general.

 

With regard to the ‘Arts Programme’, the frequent events organised at the EcoCentro (e.g. music, literature, readings etc.) allow the institution to play a major role in the cultural life of the city and beyond. Also, the EcoCentro’s facilities have been used as a venue for numerous local and regional meetings and technical workshops related to environmental and marine conservation efforts.

 

Since its opening, the number of visitors of the EcoCentro has been increasing, accounting approximately for a total of 150,000 visitors in the period of 2000-2004. It is important to note that visitor numbers remained stable throughout 2002, when Argentina suffered a serious economic and political crisis. With this background the EcoCentro in Puerto Madryn has become the main local institution for environmental education about the ocean, promoting the sustainable use of marine resources and providing a suitable space for the organisation of cultural events.

 

A New Look at the Southwest Atlantic

 

The new exhibition shall portray the Southwest Atlantic marine ecosystem, providing a comprehensive and ecosystemic perspective. Visitors will be introduced to the marine environment by using different interpretation tools and by covering a large array of issues.

 

The exhibition’s take-home message is to recognise that the marine ecosystem is a large and complex whole. Despite of its size and powerful appearance, it is also a very fragile system. Therefore, whatever is done to one of its components affects the whole ecosystem. The main exhibition will raise appropriate awareness of our responsibility for the current incidents in the oceans and its natural resources.

 

The central hall with the main exhibition.
Approximately 42,000 children visited the EcoCentro, taking part in different educational units.

The exhibition will include issues like:

  • Satellite vision of the whole marine ecosystem (in an attempt to use this large-scale perspective to show general phenomena at the ecosystem level)
  • Marine current and ocean fronts (i.e. Brazil Current, Falkland/Malvinas Current, Antarctic Circumpolar Current)
  • Geomorphology (including issues like the large Argentinean continental platform, canyons, seamounts, etc.)
  • The water column (covering concepts like light and productivity, phytoplankton, zooplankton, cycle of nutrients, food chain, trophic levels, food webs, vertical migrations, deep-sea organisms, etc.)
  • Primary consumers, intermediate predators, and top predators (maintaining an ecoystemic perspective and showing how all species are interdependent)
  • Coastal and intertidal ecosystems (showing the adaptation of organisms to this changing environment)
  • Seascape species (by using the landscape methodology, several species have already been identified by local experts as priority seascape species for the Southwest Atlantic marine ecosystem; the identified species include: Magellan penguin, black-browed albatross; southern sea lion, and Patagonian toothfish)
  • Flagship species (Southern right whales, southern elephant seals, killer whales)
  • Ocean pollution, coastal degradation, and climate change
  • Overexploitation of marine resources vs. sustainable fisheries, including a large array of issues, like artisanal and industrial fisheries, main commercial species in the Southwest Atlantic, different fishing gears and associated impacts (by-catch, entanglement of seabirds and marine mammals, habitat destruction, impact of bottom trawling, etc.)
  • The precautionary approach to ocean management and the need for sustainable use of marine resources
  • Marine protected areas as a tool to improve fisheries management and to protect marine biodiversity
  • National and international legal instruments that regulate activities in the oceans and protect highly migratory marine species
  • Current conservation actions
  • The ocean as an important component of local history and culture

 

The Project Co-ordinator is Dr. Rodolfo Werner Kinkelin, who is currently the Science Co-ordinator at the EcoCentro Puerto Madryn.

 

 

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Puerto Madryn is a city in the province of Chubut in the Argentine Patagonia near Valdes Peninsula, an important nature reserve which was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999.