Photo: Pete Oxford

Dr. Rachel Graham

Founder and Executive Director

Fascinated with the sea from the early days growing up in Tunisia, Rachel Graham was drawn to the fields of research, environment and development in Latin America, Africa and Micronesia.

For the past 30 years she has worked with both the private sector and institutions such as the United Nations, the University of York, the Smithsonian Institution and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

For over two decades Rachel has lived in Belize and worked with fishers and partners in several countries to identify threats, research needs and conservation opportunities for threatened marine wildlife and their critical habitats. As part of this work, Rachel has catalysed a range of megafauna research and conservation action worldwide and is an active member of the IUCN Shark Specialist Group and helped to found several National Shark Advisory Committees to better facilitate information sharing as well as management and policy reform for elasmobranchs.

In 2011, she won the Whitley Fund for Nature Gold Award for her work with sharks and communities.

In 2014, Rachel founded the international NGO MarAlliance to promote impactful and inclusive grassroots science and conservation of marine wildlife.

Rachel holds a BSc in Zoology from Oxford, an MSc from Edinburgh and a PhD from the University of York, UK. She is most proud of her two sons who balance their love of fishing with their desire to be marine scientists and conservationists.


Photo: Pete Oxford

Ivy Baremore, MSc

Technical Coordinator

Ivy Baremore graduated from Florida State University in 2001 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biological Sciences.

She worked as a biological technician for the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Panama City Laboratory for 3 years, where she was also field party chief of small boat operations for the Gulf of Mexico Shark Pupping and Nursery survey.

Following her Master’s Degree in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences from University of Florida with a thesis on the feeding ecology of Atlantic angel sharks, in 2006 Ivy began working at NMFS in Panama City, Florida as a fishery observer coordinator, and then a fishery biologist. Her research focused on commercial and recreational landings and life history biology of shark species in support of stock assessment.

She moved to Belize in 2013 and transitioned to the role of technical coordinator with MarAlliance, where she helps to coordinate and implement research and data analyses. Working on a host of projects Ivy also leads the deep-sea sharks and fisheries project in the MesoAmerican Region.



Photo: Pete Oxford

Hilmar Salazar

Fisher and Community Field Coordinator, Belize

Hilmar Salazar has been a commercial fisher for 20 years and is based in Sarteneja, Belize.

In addition to his work as a fisher, he has volunteered with a number of environmental organizations, including World Wildlife Fund, Wildtracks, and the Sarteneja Alliance for Conservation and Development.

As Community Field Coordinator, Hilmar’s work helps to foster grassroots support for large marine wildlife in multiple sectors. Hilmar is responsible for organizing and leading training initiatives for both community leaders, students and fishers. He trains fishermen on standardized monitoring methods for large marine wildlife both within and outside the MarAlliance team, throughout the countries of the MesoAmerican Reef.

Hilmar is very passionate about his work with sharks and hopes to ensure a promising future for his 14 year old son.



Thomas Meyer

Finance and Logistics Coordinator

Thomas joined MarAlliance with over 20 years of business background and retail experience.  studying International business at Seneca College in Toronto, Canada, he went on to become a district manager for a large ecologically conscious nationwide franchise.  Thomas oversaw operations and communications and managed over 100 staff members throughout the city of Toronto.

He has always had a strong passion for NGOs and forever fascinated with the ocean and marine life.  During his free time, he volunteered for animal rescue organizations such as Save Our Scruff, and participated in K-9 therapy programs geared towards the terminally ill and sick children. Growing up and living in the Great Lakes region of North America simply wasn’t enough. Perpetually curious, he has travelled the world exploring Central America, Asia and the south Pacific.  After falling in love with Central America during his travels, Thomas made the move to Belize in May 2016 and joined MarAlliance full time in July 2017.


Photo: Pete Oxford

Dan Castellanos

Fisher and Field Research Coordinator, Belize

Dan Castellanos began fishing with his father, a traditional Belizean fisher, when he was 12 years old. This transfer of passion and knowledge from father to son led to Dan’s interest in the marine environment. He pursued a future in small-scale commercial fishing, eventually earning a position as captain.

In addition to his many years of work as a fisherman, Dan decided to pursue work as a freelance guide. He guides people from all over the world to areas unique to Belize and Guatemala, leading fly fishing enthusiasts to healthy bonefish flats.

Dan began working with Dr. Graham in 1999 while she was studying whale sharks and spawning aggregations throughout Belize. He subsequently worked with her as part of the Wildlife Conservation Society Sharks and Rays program for seven years, playing a major role in fishing, tagging, and captaining. In 2014, he took on the role of Lead Research Associate and Boat Captain for MarAlliance.

Dan is fascinated with marine megafauna research and it has afforded him countless opportunities to travel to other research sites, meet a variety of other researchers and undertake cutting edge research.



Photo: Pete Oxford

Evaristo Muschamp

Fisher and Field Associate, Belize

Evaristo Muschamp has spent his entire life directly connected to the sea. He has 17 years of experience as a commercial fisherman.

Like many of the fishers in the MarAlliance team, Evaristo makes a living diving for lobster and conch in Belize. He is very passionate about this work, taking great pride in being a part of one of the oldest industries in the country. Evaristo finds his work a freeing and rewarding means of income, granting him access to beautiful, unique, and remote locations.

After many years of hearing about her work, Evaristo decided to join Dr. Rachel Graham in her effort to study local sharks and rays. He began working as a part of the shark survey in 2011, helping to catch and tag elasmobranchs along the Mesoamerican Reef. He likes getting to work with these wild animals while he learns more about their behaviors and biology through hands on research and has now traveled to Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras to work with large marine wildlife and train other fishers in long term monitoring methods.



Photo: Ivy Baremore

Kurt Godfrey “Mambo”

Fisher and Field Associate, Belize



Photo: Pete Oxford

Nelson Ortega

Fisher and Field Associate, Belize



Photo: Pete Oxford

Eduardo Ortega

Fisher and Field Associate, Belize


Evan Cuevas

Fisher and Research Associate, Belize

Evan Cuevas has been a commercial fisher for 10 years, based in Monkey River Village in the Toledo district of Belize.

As many fishers do, he began fishing with his father for fish, lobster and conch when he was 14 years old. Evan went on to study tourism and business in secondary school, however his passion for fishing and marine life brought him back to the sea, earning a living diving for lobster and conch.

Evan joined the MarAlliance team in 2016 as a research assistant studying sharks and rays. He participated in the annual monitoring of marine megafauna at Turneffe Atoll and Lighthouse Reef Atoll, where he assisted our researchers in the capture and tagging of sharks, running underwater visual surveys and setting and analyzing baited remote underwater videos.

Evan is increasingly involved in the education and outreach program, representing MarAlliance at TIDE Fish Fest in Punta Gorda, Belize. Evan is ecstatic knowing he’s contributing to the conservation marine megafauna and looks forward to an exciting future balancing his love of fishing with marine conservation.


Cynthia Xiu

Research Intern, Belize

Cynthia grew up on the island of Ambergris Caye, Belize and it was there that her passion for the environment began. Living just a few feet away from the sea, she learned how to swim by the age of four.

During her time in high school Cynthia volunteered in the Belize Red Cross and also became a member of the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO). By her last year of high school she was constantly traveling to help her community, and it was during her time volunteering that Cynthia realized how much her passion for helping both people and the environment had grown. Her experiences helped her to understand the relationship between people and the environment and the impact humans can have on the world around them. From then on, she was determined to further her education in the field of natural resources management.

Cynthia recently earned her Associates degree in both Biology and Natural Resource Management from Centro Escolar Mexico Junior College in San Roman Village, Belize. She has worked in the tourism industry in San Pedro for two years, and joined MarAlliance in April, 2017 as a Research Intern. With MarAlliance, she hopes to gain experience in as many aspects of natural resource management as possible to apply to her future education and career.



Photo: Pete Oxford

Norma and Delcia Forman

Inimitable Field Chefs, Belize


Dr. Kevin Rhodes

Coordinator, Micronesia and Coastal Fisheries

While a kid growing up 60 miles from the coast in southeast Texas, Kevin Rhodes was surrounded by deciduous forest, rivers and lakes, but every Sunday evening, he immersed himself in tropical marine life through the television show “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau.” That fascination led him to attend the University of Texas at Austin where he dabbled in phycology, range ecology and freshwater fishes before heading to Moss Landing Marine Labs to work on Yellow Sea (China) demersal fishes.

He received his BS degree in Aquatic Biology in 1988 followed by a Masters in Marine Science (1995) from Cal State University at Hayward and doctorate at the University of Hong Kong in 2002. His first real chance at coral reef fish ecology began with a connection through a (The) Nature Conservancy article on the Southeast Asia-based live reef food fish trade written by Prof. Yvonne Sadovy de Micheson who would become his future mentor. This article also led Kevin to the Coral Triangle and surrounding environs where he has been focused ever since.

Today, as MarAlliance’s Coastal Fisheries Coordinator Kevin shares his knowledge and experience to empower local fishing communities to control their future and their resources.



Photo: Pete Oxford

Taylor Paul

Fisher and Research Associate, Micronesia


McKye Ioanis

Research Associate, Micronesia


Gaby Ochoa

Coordinator, Honduras

Gabriela (Gaby) Ochoa graduated from Texas A&M University, with a Bachelor’s in Marine Biology in 2012. During her time at A&M she worked at the Marine Invertebrate Lab, on a taxonomic study and description of a new species of Amphinomid (fire worms).

She moved back to Honduras in 2012, and volunteered with several NGOs. In 2013 Gaby became involved with The GEF Small Grant Programme (SGP), as technical project assistant executing four development projects on the Pacific coast of Honduras. There she worked closely with fishers and turtle poachers to standardize data collection on Olive Ridleys (Lepidochelys olivacea). She moved to the Island of Roatan in 2014 and began a Hawksbill monitoring program (Eretmochelys imbricata).

In 2015, Gaby joined the MarAlliance team, as Coordinator for Honduras and is responsible for coordinating long term baseline monitoring for marine megafauna in the North Coast and Bay Islands in Honduras.


Ely Augustinus

Research Associate, Honduras

Ely was born in the pacific coast of Honduras, and it was there where she saw her first shark playing near a fishing pier when she was 8 years old and it was love at first sight.

She studied Biology in the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH), during her time as a student she became a volunteer at the Museum of Natural History, conducting a study on hammerhead shark teeth and their use in taxonomy, age and growth. She was the first woman to become a research associate at the museum.

In 2014 she began teaching Ichthyology at the University, focusing on elasmobranchs. In 2015 she joined the Institute of Conservation and Forestry (ICF) where she was in charge of biological monitoring.

She joined the MarAlliance Team as Research Intern and following her internship became a Research Associate. She is working on long-term elasmobranch monitoring, deep-sea shark studies, sawfish surveys and marine education in Honduras.


Exson Flores

Exson Alejandro Flores

Fisher and Field Associate, Honduras

Exson was born in the community of Jutiapa in the department of Atlantida in the North Coast of Honduras. At the age of five, he and his family moved to the small fishing community of East End in Cayos Cochinos, a small archipelago a few kilometers from the Caribbean coast. Exson began fishing at the age of seven with his friends in the community, making fishing gear with whatever they found.

Today, Exson is a community leader in East End and is part of the community council in charge of the welfare of his people. Exson has a depth of experience working with marine biologists and has participated in several studies assessing the connectivity of parrotfish in the MesoAmerican Reef region as well as the reproduction of sea cucumbers in Cayos Cochinos. Exson joined MarAlliance in 2015 and is responsible for conducting Marine Megafauna monitoring and during this process training other artisanal fishers from the region. He is a devoted father and very passionate about marine conservation and vocal about the welfare of coastal communities, especially his beloved East End.


Maria Coello Chandias

Research Intern, Honduras

Maria José was born in Tegucigalpa. From small she was always eager to be in contact with nature, and this passion drove her to study Biology at the National Autonomous University of Honduras.

During her university studies she volunteered for the International Organization New Acropolis, where she was responsible for raising awareness on the environment. She has also volunteered for several turtle projects collecting data on nesting turtles in Cayos Cochinos and along the Pacific Coast. Maria joined the MarAlliance team as a research intern and is looking forward to gaining valuable field and analytical experience in the field of Marine Biology.



Photo: Pete Oxford

Megan Chevis, MSc

Coordinator, Panama

As the daughter of a marine animal veterinarian, Megan’s passion for marine wildlife developed early. She was involved with sea turtle and cetacean research, rescue, and rehabilitation for 12 years, including following Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

After graduating with a BSc in Environmental Science from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2012, Megan spent two years traveling as well as being a whale watching guide in the Pearl Islands of Panama and a research assistant with Latin American Sea Turtles (LAST) in the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica.

Her MSc research project with the University of Exeter-Penryn, under the guidance of Dr. Brendan Godley and Dr. Graham, focused on the spatial ecology of hawksbill turtles at Lighthouse Reef Atoll in Belize using passive acoustic telemetry.

After receiving her degree, Megan moved back to her home country of Panama and now works as MarAlliance’s Country Coordinator leading in-country marine megafauna monitoring, coastal fisheries and sawfish assessments.


Roxane Borruat

Masters Student, Panama

Coming from a landlocked country, Switzerland, Roxane’s love for the ocean and particularly elasmobranchs have not been easy to pursue.

In order to immerse herself into marine science, she participated in an exchange program to study marine biology at the University of Queensland (Australia) while completing her Bachelor’s of Biology with the University of Lausanne (Switzerland).

Of the range of experience compiled to date, Roxane photo-tagged whale sharks in the Philippines with WWF and manta rays in Peru with the Peruvian NGO “Planeta Océano”. During her time in Peru, she also worked with fishers to conduct fisheries landings surveys and eco-tourism.

In 2015, Roxane started a Master’s of Oceanography at the University of Amsterdam (Netherlands) and is now conducting her thesis. She is currently undertaking a research project related to Panamanian small-scale fisheries in the Pacific with MarAlliance under the supervision and guidance of Dr. Graham and Panama Coordinator Megan Chevis.


Zeddy Seymour, MSc

Coordinator, Cape Verde

Alexander (Zeddy) Seymour has always had a passion for nature, and in particular sharks. He also has a keen interest in both terrestrial and marine ecology.

After receiving a BA in Latin American Studies in England with a year abroad in Brazil, Zeddy went on to read an MSc in Conservation and Biodiversity at the University of Exeter in 2012 where he completed a thesis on fisheries-independent monitoring of sharks in Belize. He studied under Dr. Brendan Godley and Dr. Graham who inspired him to pursue a career in marine conservation.

His diverse experience in Latin America and Africa have helped him not only to study the fauna, but also to work in raising awareness of ecology at a community level. He was project coordinator for the Zoological Society of London supporting projects in Angola and Mozambique from 2012 to 2014.

Zeddy is the coordinator for MarAlliance in Cabo Verde where he conducts baseline studies and long-term monitoring for elasmobranchs, working with traditional fishers and local schools.


Zé Luís Monteiro

Fisher and Field Associate, Cape Verde

Zé Luís is originally from Praia de Baixo on the Island of Santiago though has lived in Boa Vista for the last 15 years. He is the captain of Luar and probably the happiest fisher in Cabo Verde!

His favourite fish is the yellow fin tuna. He navigates the sea around Boa Vista second to none and is never fazed even in adverse conditions. He is fascinated by the gentleness of the whale shark. He is the proud father of a sweet little girl called Stefani and a massive FC Porto fan.


Angelito Monteiro

Fisher and Field Associate, Cape Verde

Also from Praia de Baixo, Angelito is the younger of the two brothers. Often ‘luckier’ with a line in hand, he is also the frogman of the crew (and being younger often gets the short-straw).

At 6’4” he is a giant of a man yet calm and composed. His keen eyes are able to spot elasmobranchs at distance and at depth. He enjoys the openness and tranquillity of the sea. His favourite fish is also yellow fin though he is intrigued by the manta ray.


Cintia Lima

Education and Outreach Intern, Cape Verde

Cintia grew up on the islands of São Vicente and Sal but set her roots in Boavista 8 years ago. Passionate about helping people make positive choices for the environment, Cintia has a degree in social education from the University of Porto in Portugal and has been working in social and environmental projects in Boa Vista for the last 3 years. She is particularly interested in changing perceptions and inspiring young people about sharks, rays and the marine environment.

She brings a passion for nature and biodiversity, education and photography and is excited to be able to combine these elements whilst working towards raising awareness and improving our relationship with the sea in her beloved Boavista.


Simon Gulak

Research Associate, USA

Simon Gulak received his Bachelor’s Degree in Oceanography with Marine Biology from the University of Southampton, England, in 2001. He went on to work as a fishery observer for the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Panama City Laboratory and Southeast Fisheries Science Centre (SEFSC) Miami Laboratory for five years.

In 2007, Simon joined the NMFS Panama City Laboratory fishery observer office as an assistant coordinator and started a part-time MSc of Zoology at the University of Aberdeen, in Scotland. He completed the MSc in 2012 with the thesis entitled “Phylogenetics and phylogeography of the bull shark, Carcharhinus leucas (Valenciennes, 1839)”. In the interim, he was promoted from assistant observer coordinator to lead fishery observer coordinator for two observer programs at SEFSC.

Simon has co-authored five peer-reviewed publications and is the lead author on one regarding the hooking mortality in two species of hammerhead sharks. As an observer coordinator, Simon has trained observers in Liberia, Gabon, Oregon, Florida, and Texas. He has been involved in several shark stock assessments, providing data series documents and also manages satellite tagging data of elasmobranchs.

In 2015, Simon formed the consultancy company, Sea Leucas LLC, with which he hopes to support MarAlliance’s mission in Central America.


Carlos Pi

Carlos Pi

Design & Communications Associate

Carlos brings over twenty years’ experience in Strategic Communications, Graphic Design and User Experience Design, including scientific and environmental communication for the Charles Darwin Research Station and the Galapagos National Park.

You can see some of his work at www.carlospi.com.


Former and Current Students

Georgie Blow
Roxane Borruat
Francesco Garzon
Dr. Adrian Gleiss
Linnea Joandi
Kim Lees
Julie Lewis
James Lewis
Lois Moriel
Coihmne O’Brian Moran
Kate Philpott
Dr. Kylie Scales
Zeddy Seymour
Sophie Thompson


Volunteers

Perry Fennel
Maria Khoslova
Emma Janke
Thomas Meyer
Sam Owen
Cameron Rhodes
Amanda Resterer