Estrella Malca attended UM as an undergraduate student and continued her education at UM, obtaining a MS in Marine Affairs and Policy. She started her research at UM’s toadfish research lab and shortly after began volunteering at NOAA SEFSC. Since then, she has moved on to study larval fish ecology focusing on marine biology, systematics (taxonomy), trophic dynamics, and growth. Her projects are centered on larval ecology in the North Atlantic Ocean relating to highly migratory species (tunas, billfishes) and reef fish (lionfish, snapper). She also studies pelagic fish, such as tuna and mahi-mahi, who are seen as economically important species. Her research is contributing to society through being able to better understand the effects that climate change will have on different species and their migratory patterns. Her research also plays into the life history of fish by analyzing hotspots, seasonality, and habitat quality. Through analyzing all of these things, she can inform management on the protection of species and provide stock assessment models for different industries.
Estrella has always had a love for the ocean and growing up she would find whatever excuse she could to be outside. What keeps her passion alive is mentoring young scientists and being able to fill in scientific gaps to move our knowledge forward on relatively unknown data sets. Outside of work, Estrella has been involved in Women in Science Day, Ocean Kids and the Miami-Dade County Youth Fair. Ocean Kids is an organization created by Dr. Jill Richardson that focuses on ocean conservation with children from underserved Greater Miami communities. At both Ocean Kids and the Miami-Dade Fair, Estrella set-up educational booths on larval fish. As a way for non-scientists to get involved, Estrella would say, “be aware of your local environment and keep your eyes and ears open to getting involved in conservation efforts.”
For Estrella’s latest oceanographic expedition, check out the survey’s blog: http://nfchroniclesnoaa.blogspot.com/2018/