Located in a unique zone where three distinct marine biogeographical provinces (Lusitanian, Mauritanian and Mediterranean) converge, the region of the Straits of Gibraltar provides a matchless natural laboratory for marine studies, allowing ready access to a wide range of different environments that highlight the sheer breadth of diversity and dynamism of this compelling subject.
In the 21st century over 85% of the world’s population is living or working in coastal areas that have become an amalgamation of urban and natural components. High human densities, coupled with associated impacts, such as urban reclamation, port activities and recreational tourism have led to coastal ecosystems becoming heavily affected.
How these ecosystems are managed in the future will determine their resilience to natural and human-induced changes and the sustainability of their natural resources. The latest climate change science highlights both the importance of the sea as an important component of the global climate system as well as the enormity of climate-induced impacts and the urgency with which adaptive measures are needed to mitigate these on natural and human systems.
An increasing awareness of the importance of the world’s coasts and oceans as natural resources, and their close relationship with climate, biodiversity and environment, has led to a high demand for marine science specialists with the requisite skills to tackle these increasingly critical issues.