Embark on an extraordinary journey into the heart of marine conservation as we shine a spotlight on our MarAlliance Ocean Heroes. Here, we highlight some of our team members, who are on the front lines of conservation initiatives in their local communities, protecting their environment, educating their community, and inspiring positive change.
Daneira Brown – Education & Outreach Officer, Panama
Daneira Brown, a dedicated advocate for marine conservation, resides in the stunning Guna Yala, Panama. Her profound connection to the sea, particularly sea turtles, stems from her upbringing in the Kuna community. The rich culture of the Kuna people and their connection to nature has sensitized her to the beautiful yet fragile nature of marine ecosystems. By trophically controlling the populations of marine organisms, sea turtles play a vital role in maintaining healthy marine ecosystems and promoting biodiversity in Guna Yala. In addition to her scientific work, Daneira works tirelessly to cultivate an appreciation for the conservation of marine biodiversity in indigenous communities through education outreach programs.
Daneria’s Fun Fact about Sea Turtles:
- In the Guna culture, sea turtles were considered the ancestors of the Gunas, and they were considered brothers in ancient times.
Clara Sabal – Research Officer, Belize
Residing in the tropical nation of Belize, Clara Sabal is a passionate advocate for the preservation of local marine megafauna, including sharks, turtles, rays, and finfish.
Belize’s coral reef, a breathtaking natural wonder, holds profound significance for the nation’s economic prosperity, supporting food security, tourism, and recreation. Safeguarding this ecological treasure is not just a conservation imperative but a fundamental necessity for the well-being of local communities and the pursuit of sustainable development.
In collaboration with local fishermen, Clara tirelessly collects essential scientific data. This invaluable information not only sheds light on the status of marine megafauna but also serves as a beacon guiding the broader health of the ecosystem. Join Clara Sabal in her passionate mission, where expertise meets dedication, ensuring the protection and longevity of Belize’s marine wonders.
Clara’s Fun Fact about Nurse Sharks:
- Nurse sharks, although quite calm and nonaggressive when caught on a longline, are one of the hardest species to handle. They require great patience when being measured!
Ivan Torres – Fisher Associate, Belize
Originating from the stunning fishing village of Sarteneja, Belize, Ivan serves as a prominent figure in the conservation efforts taking place in his community. Ivan learned to fish from his father at the young age of 10 and has since honed his craft through over 30 years of experience. Due to his lively upbringing on the water, Ivan has become a skillful turtle catcher and shark handler. He recognizes the importance of megafauna to the health of his local marine ecosystem and is therefore a dedicated protector of the fish, sharks, rays, and turtles. During his time as a conservationist, he has witnessed an increase in the abundance of sharks in his local reef system, an exciting sign that his hard work is paying off.
Ivan’s Fun Fact:
- Despite previously negative experiences with sharks as a fisherman, Ivan asserts that they are in fact not as aggressive as they seem.
Hayro Cunampio – Community Coordinator, Panama
Working in the lush landscapes of Darien, Panama, Hayro represents a true guardian of the rivers and its inhabitants. In particular, Hayro is passionate about protecting the critically endangered largetooth sawfish (Pristis pristis). Once abundant in the 60s and 70s, the sawfish has been hunted to near extinction in the Darien de Rios due to a lack of economic opportunity and conservation knowledge. In Panama, the sawfish is critically important for ecotourism, especially in areas such as the Matusagaratí, Panama’s largest wetland. Along with collecting important data on fish from the Chucunaque, Balsas, Pirre, and Tuira rivers, Hayro educates his fellow Panamanianas on the importance of environmental conservation. Hayro is particularly inspired to continue working in conservation by the indigenous peoples’ rich history of respect and appreciation for the sawfish.
Hayro’s Fun Fact about the Sawfish:
- One of the largest rivers in Panama is named after the sawfish: The SugguNaguer (today Chucunaque) translates to “an abundance of sawfish.”
Mario David – Fisher Associate, Honduras
Mario is a conservation leader in his local island community of Cayos Cochinos, Honduras. A longtime fisherman, Mario is versed in data collection methods and other marine megafauna monitoring skills, including the proper handling and release of various species of sharks and deep-sea fish. Despite initial beliefs rooted in his fishing community that sharks are dangerous animals, Mario has transformed into a dedicated protector through firsthand collaboration in our research efforts. Asserting that the conservation of marine fauna is essential for maintaining his local fishing industry, Mario is motivated to continue working in conservation and educating his fellow fishermen about its importance.
Mario’s Fun Fact:
- Mario David can personally verify that sharks are not as scary or dangerous as they are made out to be in the movies: sharks are crucial for maintaining ecosystem health and promoting marine biodiversity.
Join us in rewilding the oceans!
By making a donation today you will be part of our mission to rewild our oceans with endangered marine megafauna and support our Ocean Heroes. Your Tax tax-deductible contribution makes a real impact on our initiatives such as marine habitat restoration, endangered marine wildlife protection and sustainable practices.
No donation is too small: each one has a significant impact.