The International Team

It is easy to call for interdisciplinary syntheses, but will anyone respond? Garrett Hardin (1998) Extension of The Tragedy of the Commons, The American Association for the Advancement of Science

We are an interdisciplinary synthesis of anthropologists, marine & terrestrial scientists, indigenous peoples, musicians, educators, photographers, students, artists, geographers, economists, fishers, linguists, tour guides and conservationists. We are women and men who are dedicated to creating a platform using culturally appropriate methodologies to teach fundamental marine ecosystem conservation concepts across the greater Caribbean basin, the Gulf of México, the tropical western Atlantic and beyond… We are Marine Conservation without Borders. You are too!


Name: Me’ira Mizrahi
Country: Australia
Language(s): English
Position: Contributing Author
Affiliation: James Cook University
Occupation: PhD (Candidate)

Bio: Me’ira is a marine technical advisor consultant to Fauna and Flora International’s Cambodia and Myanmar program. She does this alongside her PhD at James Cook University, which researches the social dimensions of marine protected areas. Prior to her work in Southeast Asia, Me’ira worked as a field scientist for Blue Ventures in Belize, monitoring the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve and researching the management implications of the diet of invasive to the Caribbean lionfish.



Name: Denver T. Cayetano
Position: Country Coordinator/Translator
Country: Belize
Language(s): English, Kriol
Affiliation: University of Belize Environmental Research Institute
Occupation: Forestry Biologist

Bio: Denver is a young conservationist and ecologist. He has strong interests in forest ecology and management, as well as youth empowerment. In 2014 he graduated with a BSc in Natural Resources Management from the University of Belize. Denver currently works with the University's Environmental Research Institute as a forest biologist. In his spare time, he serves as the national coordinator of the Caribbean Youth Environment Network in Belize, and regional representative for the International Forestry Student’s Association. He also serves as a member of the executive committee of the Mesoamerican Society for Biology and Conservation, Belize chapter.


Name: Zaida Nayelhi Majil
Position: Associate
Occupation: Student
Affiliation: Muffles Junior College
Position: Biology/Natural Resource Management
Country: Belize
Language(s): Kriol, English, Spanish

Bio:  Zaida Nayelhi Majil is 21 years old and was born in the Belize City. She now lives in Orange Walk Town. There she spent more than her life living inland but something about marine life and protecting the environment inspired her to study science at Bishop Martin High School. She currently attends Muffles Junior College studying biology and natural resource management. Zaida will soon complete her associates in 2017 and is looking forward to studying more about Belize’s natural resources. She hopes to become a marine biologist.

In her spare time she learn everything she can about the sea and enjoyed watching documentaries about marine ecosystem and the species found therein. Zaida cares for all and terrestrial flora and fauna, especially those being affected by climate change. She enjoys speaking Kriol, the language of the fishers of Belize. She once work with Mr. Robby Thigpen on a book about the sea that was written in Kriol. He inspired Zaida with his belief that marine biology is for all Belizeans, which is one of the things that encouraged her to pursue studies in biology.

Name: Noel Dario Novelo     

Country: Belize

Language(s): Spanish, Belizean Kriol, English

Position: Science Editor

Affiliation: Aquaculture Research Center, College of Agriculture, Food Science, and Sustainable Systems, Kentucky State University, Frankfort, KY   

Occupation: Aquaculture Genetics and Reproduction Research

Bio: Noel Dario Novelo was born in Orange Walk Town, Belize, where he grew up.  He is a Mestizo of mixed Yucatecan Maya and Spaniard descent.  As a young man, he traveled his country by bus, boat, and foot; he volunteered in community and conservation efforts such as at the Children’s Home (Belize City, Belize) and at the Jaguar Reserve in the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary (Stann Creek, Belize); and he taught English Literature, English Composition, and Spanish at the Corozal Community College (Corozal, Belize).  His interest is in the well-being of people and our natural resources; in leadership, team and community building; and in regional and international collaboration.  He obtained his Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Literature from the University of Belize (Belize City, Belize); his Master's Degree in Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences and his Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Kentucky State University (Frankfort, Kentucky); and his Ph.D. in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge, Louisiana).  His scientific work includes inheritance of color and DNA markers in ornamental (Koi) carp, and ultrasound imaging in channel catfish reproduction.   He has published and presented his findings in scientific journals, outreach magazines, and at numerous national and international conferences of the World Aquaculture Society, the Louisiana Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, and the Gulf Coast Conservation Biology Symposium.  Dr. Novelo is currently a Research Associate in Aquaculture Genetics and Fish Reproduction at Kentucky State University working on Tilapia reproduction. 

Name: Yarisel Marleni Castillo
Occupation: Student
Affiliation: Marine Conservation without boarders
Position: Translator
Country: Belize
Language(s): Kriol, English, Spanish

Bio: Yarisel Castillo is a student living in Belize City. She has known Robby from since I was very young. Her grandfather, uncles and some cousins are fishermen. Robby came to live with the Castillo family in 2005. He was interesting in learning about the fishermen of Belize the waters and the marine life. During his time Belize he had learned many things from the fishermen about fishery. He says that the fishermen were the best professors he ever had. Her older sister and aunt has helped with his scientific investigations. He always wanted to include Belizeans in everything he was doing. Years have passed and he still comes visit the Castillo family in Pickstock. Now Yarisel is a young adult and is helping with his work. “This project is important to me as well as my country because it is all about protecting the sea and the marine life. Also it is vital for the future of the fisheries of Belize. I look forward to continue to help Mr. Robby with this amazing project.”

Name: Myrna Manzanares
Country: Belize
Language(s): Kriol, Inglish
Position: Senior Editor
Affiliation: National Kriol Council
Occupation: Author & Educator

Bio: Myrna Manzanares is an ardent human rights, sexual and reproductive health rights, women, youth, community, and education activist. She is also an International traditional storyteller, a published writer, poet, dramatist, educator and a trained counselor. She is the immediate past president of the National Kriol Council (NKC) and perceives herself as a culturist, concerned about her Kriol Culture as well as inter-ethnic harmony of the Belizean peoples and by extension the world. She is the present Cultural Attaché to the National Kriol Council. She serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal for Belizean studies and is one of the editors of the Kriol language materials, including the Kriol/Inglish Dikshinari and the yearly Kriol Kalinda, published by the Kriol Langwij Projek, the linguistic arm of the NKC. In 2016 she coordinated the completion of the New Testament in Kriol through the Wycliffe Institute. She is on the executive board for the Belize History Association. Ms. Manzanares received the British Empire‘s medal from the Queen of England in June of 2008, for her work in Culture, Education and Social Development, and a Meritorious award for her service to Belize in 2010. She also received the Woman of Culture award from the National Institute of Culture and History during Women’s History month in 2016.

Name: Marisa Tellez
Country: Belize
Language(s): English and Spanish
Position: Contributing Author
Affiliation: Crocodile Research Coalition
Occupation: Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Crocodile Research Coalition

“If a woman loves a crocodile, she takes on its character.” — Ancient Egyptian Proverb

Bio: At an age when most girls were playing with dolls, Dr. Marisa Tellez was developing knowledge of the world’s top predators as she knew at a young age she wanted to be an advocate and leader in the conservation of the world’s apex predators, particularly crocodiles. Books, television, and local wildlife facilities were the only outlets for her to “experience” crocodiles given she was growing up in the suburbs of Los Angeles, California. After receiving a BA in Cultural Anthropology and a BS in Zoology from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2005, Marisa finally got her hands-on experience with crocodilians at the Eco-station in Culver City, California, and soon after began working at the Los Angeles Zoo. It was working at the zoo that she realized she wanted to head back to school and truly pursue scientific research with crocodilians, particularly investigating their interaction with parasites.

Marisa received a Master’s (2010) and PhD (2014) from the University of California, Los Angeles studying the interaction between parasites and crocodilians, publishing a book and various scientific publications. Her work, knowledge and passion for crocodile conservation was quickly acknowledged by the International Union for Conservation of Nature/Species Survival Commission-Crocodile Specialist Group (CSG), and was soon initiated into the CSG, as well as appointed as the Vice Regional Chair of Latin America for the CSG for her field work in Guatemala, Mexico and Belize which began in 2008.

After receiving a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship through the United States government to research the health and biodiversity of crocodilian habitat in Belize, Marisa soon called Belize home. Observing the difference her research and outreach was making in the local communities, Marisa co-founded the Crocodile Research Coalition (CRC) in January 2016 to further promote crocodile research and community involvement to assist in the conservation of crocodilians and their habitat to ensure the future well-being of both nature and man. Marisa is currently working on expanding satellite research stations and affiliations of the CRC throughout Central America and the Caribbean.


Nome: Isabela Costa Moreira    

País: Brasil

Línguas: Português, Inglês

Posição: Autor Senior

Afiliação: Museu de Astronomia e Ciências

Profissão: Conservadora de bens Culturais

Bio: Isabella a Museum Conservator living in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Currently she is pursuing an MA in Conservation of Science Artifacts. Her interest is in sustainability in museums. Isabella received a degree in “Portuguese/English Language and Literature” in the 90’s, and has worked as a translator for many years. She has many personal interests that go beyond her education, and one of these is a concern for the marine life that we are all responsible for.




Name: Miriam Boucher
Country: Canada
Language(s): English
Position: Contributing Author
Affiliation: West Virginia University, Crocodile Research Coalition
Occupation: Graduate Student

Bio: Miriam is a Canadian native who earned her Bachelor’s degree in environmental biology at Wingate University, North Carolina. In 2014 she became involved with crocodylian conservation efforts in Belize, assisting with ongoing population monitoring, parasitology research, and community engagement projects. Miriam is a current research affiliate of the Crocodile Research Coalition and pursuing her Master’s degree in wildlife management from West Virginia University, investigating behavior and acoustics of American crocodiles in Belize.



Nombre: Alvaro Andrés Moreno Munar
Posición: Coordinador de País, Autor de la contribución, Traductor
Ocupación: Investigador
Afiliación: Universidad de Bogotá Jorge Tadeo Lozano Corpescaribe-SENA
Posición: Biólogo Marino
País: Colombia
Idioma(s): Español, Ingles

Bio: Biólogo Marino con intereses de investigación y conservación de especies marinas amenazadas de extinción, especialmente las tortugas marinas, temática desde la cual he abordado diferentes proyectos enfocados a la caracterización de ambientes para generar lineas base de investigación tanto de especies como de ecosistemas prioritarios para su conservación, utilizando heramientas como la educación ambiental el manejo de sistemas de información geográfica y la participación comunitaria.



Nombre: Aminta Peláez Guariyu
País: Colombia
Idiomas: Wayuunaiki, Español
Posición: Traductor Cultural
Profesión: Etnoeducador

Costa Rica

Nombre: Johnny Hurtado Aguilar
País: Costa Rica
Idiomas: Español
Posición: Colega
Afiliación: Refugio de Vida Silvestre Laguna Urpiano

Bio: Johnny Hurtado Aguilar es un nativo del caribe costarricense y apasionado de toda su fauna decidió luchar contra la extinción de las tortugas tras ver con sus propios ojos la drástica disminución de la población anidante. Pescador profesional en alta mar desde los 14 años es conocedor del ecosistema maríno y costero de costa rica así como de todos sus cambios y problemas. Desde los años noventa a colaborado y trabajado en diversos proyectos de tortugas en Costa Rica y Panamá.

En 2013 decidió iniciar la protección de tortugas en su propia casa: el Refugio de Vida Silvestre Laguna Urpiano el cual dirige y es no sólo no un proyecto de conservación de fauna y flora sino también una solución laboral para el futuro de la población local y la concienciación de nuevas generaciones.

Name: Katherine Ulate Gómez

Country: Costa Rica

Language(s): Spanish, English

Position: Contributing Author

Affiliation: SONATI

Occupation: Biologist and Environmental Education

Bio: Katherine Ulate is a biologist focused on tropical biology, conservation and environmental education. She also has extensive knowledge in organic agriculture and medicinal plants. She is currently studying for a degree in natural resource management at the National University of Costa Rica. Her thesis theme is focused on environmental education using medicinal plants with school children. She has worked as a naturalist guide in the Rara Avis Private Nature Reserve, located in Hosquetas de Sarapiquí, Heredia. She has worked as a consultant for Panthera and as a volunteer for the Tropical Science Center. She has also worked for 4 years as secretary of the Costa Rica chapter of the Mesoamerican Society for Biology and Conservation.


Name: Sheila Rodrígues Machado
Country: Cuba
Languages: Spanish/English
Position: Contributing Author
Affiliation: Instituto de Oceanología
Occupation: Biologist

Bio: Sheila’s line of investigation is focused on the conservation of fishes though molecular instruments. Moreover, she has analyzed the impact of introduced exotic species on the Cuban ecosystems and the effect of marine protected areas on the conservation of herbivorous and carnivorous fishes. She has also focused on sensitizing local communities and technical staff of protected areas on the importance and conservation of fish species. Currently, she is completing her Master’s thesis in Marine Biology.


Dutch Caribbean

Brian Dutch Caribbean

Name: Brian Sprock
Country: Curacao
Language(s): Dutch, English, Papiamentu, Spanish
Position: Translator
Affiliation:  Just an all-around lover of the sea!
Occupation: Harbor traffic coordinator in the port of Willemstad, Curacao
Bio: Brian Sprock turned 40 years old in 2017. His father sparked his love for the ocean when he regularly took him fishing. His mother gave him his love for Orchidea and other tropical flora, she is an avid orchid and fern collector. This mixture expressed itself in him as he views the ocean as his playground as his where he loves to fish and surf. His backyard has a small collection of tropical plants and xerophytes.


Name: Cora Berchem
Country: Germany
Language(s): German, English
Position: Photographic Contributor
Affiliation: Save the Manatee Club
Occupation: Multimedia Specialist

Bio: Cora Berchem was born and raised in Bonn, Germany, and moved to the United States in 2002. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from the College of New Jersey and a Master in Film and Media from the J.W. Goethe University of Frankfurt/Germany. She worked in film and television in New York City before becoming involved with manatees in 2013 when she made a feature-length documentary about manatees titled Before It’s Too Late .

Cora works as Save the Manatee Club’s Multimedia Specialist, overseeing the Club’s live webcams , the club’s video production work and social media sites. In addition, Cora assists with the manatee research at Blue Spring State Park and volunteers with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission assisting with rescues and releases of manatees.



Nombre: Mildred Fabiola Corona Figueroa
País: Guatemala
Idiomas: Español
Posición: Autor colaborador
Profesión: Bióloga
Ocupación: Investigadora Asociada del Centro de Datos para la Conservación (CDC), Centro de Estudios Conservacionistas (CECON) de la Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala (USAC). Editora de Ciencias Naturales de Editorial Santillana, Guatemala.

Bio: Bióloga egresada de la USAC. Investigadora Asociada del CDC-CECON. Ha trabajado con ecología del manatí en Río Dulce, Izabal, Guatemala y como consultora del Consejo Nacional de Áreas Protegidas en la revisión de la Actualización del Plan Maestro del Parque Nacional Río Dulce. Editora y autora de libros de educación primaria y secundaria de Ciencias Naturales para Guatemala y Honduras, en la Editorial Santillana, Guatemala. Participó en la última fase del Proyecto “Cetáceos del Pacífico de Guatemala”; ha colaborado como investigadora en un estudio sobre peces de arrecifes de coral y pastos marinos de Punta de Manabique. Miembro de la Asociación Guatemalteca de Mastozoólogos (ASOGUAMA) y fue presidente del Capítulo Guatemala de la Sociedad Mesoamericana para la Biología y la Conservación (SMBC), durante los años 2014-2016. Actualmente, está estudiando una Maestría en Ciencias en Manejo y Gestión Integral de Cuencas Hidrográficas en el Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza (CATIE), Costa Rica.


Rony Guatemala

Name: Rony Figueroa, MPA
Country: Guatemala
Language(s): Garifuna, Spanish, English, Italian
Position: Contributing Author
Affiliation: Garifuna American Heritage Foundation United
Occupation: Business Operations Analyst

Bio: Rony Figueroa has worked as the chief financial officer for Garifuna American Heritage Foundation United, Inc., a non-profit organization based in the city of Long Beach, California.  He has facilitated cultural workshops at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, NY, Cal State University Northridge, Cal State University Los Angeles, University of California Los Angeles, and many other city and state venues around the country.  He has organized community assemblies around Los Angeles County to create awareness about the social malice that affects the Garifuna communities such as drug addiction, gang prevention, spousal and child abuse, as well as the retention of the language and the culture which are the link to survival outside Central America.

  • Covered California Certified Enrollment Counselor since 2013.
  • Garifuna Music and Talk With DJ Labuga - Internet radio Producer and Host
  • Humanitarian Award City of Los Angeles 2013
  • Garifuna Achievement Award - Entrepreneur & Activist presented by Garinagu Empowerment Movement 2006
  • BS in Business Administration with an emphasis on Computer Information Systems from CSU Dominguez Hills
  • Master in Public Administration - Finance degree from National University in San Diego, CA
  • Mr. Figueroa is currently working as Business Operations Analyst H&P Defense / Public Safety ARNG Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base - Project Jefferson


Nombre: Elmer Mauricio Enríquez

País: Guatemala

Idiomas: Garifuna, Español

Posición: Procurador con Énfasis e  Legislación Ambiental Estudiante de la carrera Ciencias en la Comunicación Perito Contador

Afiliación: Conservación Marina Sin Fronteras Wagia


Comisionado Presidencial Contra la Discriminación y el Racismo Contralos Pueblos indígenas en Guatemala –CODISRA-Agosto de 2015 hasta 15 de Noviembre de 2016.

Comunicador social para las organizaciones. ÚARA-GARIFUNA, Luban Awanseruni y Parlamento GarifunaLivingston, Izabal.

Sub-Director Financiero y Jefe de Compras en Dirección Financiera Municipal 2012 hasta 16 de Agosto de 2015.Municipalidad de Livingston, Izabal.

MAESTRO EN LA ENSEÑANZA DEL IDIOMA GARIFUNA para Gahfu, Fundación de Estados Unidos de Norteamérica, lmbruts y Radio Centro America tambièn de Estados Unidos.






MAESTRO PARA LA ENSEÑANZA DEL IDIOMA GARIFUNA PARA LA ACADEMIA: Comercializadora y Representaciones Exclusivas S. A. Directora Profa. Clara Tobias. Año 2013.

Digitador de datos en proceso para elecciones generales 2003 Livingston, Izabal.

Catedrático para curso de Matemáticas en la Universidad Roterdam Chiquimula año 2014.

Digitador de datos en proceso para elecciones generales 2007 Livingston, Izabal.

Encargado de Fondo Rotativo Municipal y Encargado de oficina IUSI año 2006-2008

Encargado de Guardalmacén año 2009-2011. Municipalidad de Livingston.

Encargado del Presupuesto General para Municipalidad de Livingston.

Digitador de datos en proceso para elecciones generales2011 Camotán Chiquimula.

Director Financiero en Asociación Luban Awanseruni (Casa para el Desarrollo Garífuna) desde año 2004 hasta la fecha.

Colaborador y Docente en Escuela de Núcleos Familiares Educativos para el Desarrollo (NUFED) No. 443 materias L2 Garífuna, Contabilidad, Matemáticas y Estudios Sociales Livingston Izabal Año 2009.

Fundador de Radio Cultural Garifuna: “Sirena Marabu”  en Livingston Izabal año 2009.                                                                                                   

DIRECTOR GENERAL de Radio Cultural Garifuna: “Sirena Marabu”  en Livingston Izabal año 2009 hasta2010.  


Name: Irene Stephney
Country: Guyana
Language(s): Patwah, English
Position: Contributor Author
Occupation: Children Conservation Author

Bio: Irene Stephney is an attorney at law and mom and writer who lives in the beautiful island of Barbados. She obtained her Bachelor of Law degree (LLB) at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados, and the practicing certificate at the Hugh Wooding Law School, Trinidad and Tobago.

 She is a native of Guyana, and developed a love for the environment as a child, as most Caribbean children spend lots of time outdoors!

In Barbados, ‘sea eggs’ (sea urchin roe) are considered a delicacy, and out of season poaching threatens the industry. Irene has written a children’s book, Jason and the Sea Egg Mystery, to encourage young children to care about their environment, especially since the marine life is an integral part of island life.



Nombre: José Antonio Romero Duron
Posición: Coordinador de País, Autor de la contribución, Traductor
Profesión: Biólogo
Ocupación: Consultor Independiente
País: Honduras
Idiomas: Español/ Ingles

Bio: Jose Antonio Romero nació en un pequeño pueblo, escondido por las montañas de maravillosa flora y fauna. Conoce el mar a los 19 años, pero a partir de ahí la vida quiso que se ligara a él a través de su profesión. Estudio biología en la Universidad Autónoma de Honduras (UNAH) y su primer empleo, en la Dirección General de Pesca y Acuicultura (DIGEPESCA), de Honduras, lo lleva a conocer mucho más las costas de su país y la gente que vive en ellas. Como parte de su trabajo pudo trabajar para pescadores artesanales e industriales, además de aprender y poner en practica principios de manejo de recursos pesqueros.

En el 2009, como parte del Departamento de Investigación, comienza a trabajar junto al Dr. Nelson Ehrhardt de la Universidad de Miami, en la evaluación del recurso caracol gigante Strombus gigas del Caribe hondureño. Fueron cinco años de investigaciones de las poblaciones de S. gigas con las que se logró poner el nombre de Honduras en el mapa de las investigaciones científicas de vanguardia en toda la Cuenca del Gran Caribe. Asimismo, tal trabajo sirvió para garantizar a la Convención sobre el Comercio Internacional de Especies Amenazadas de Fauna y Flora Silvestres (CITES) que las capturas que la pesquería realizaba no eran detrimentales a la reproducción de la especie. En la actualidad el Gobierno de Honduras usa como base para sus investigaciones y el manejo de la pesquería, los descubrimientos hechos por Ehrhardt y Romero.

Al presente, Jose, colabora con Robert “Robby” Thigpen y la Conservación Marina Sin Frontera, en enseñar conceptos fundamentales de conservación de recursos marino costeros a jóvenes de diferentes países de Latinoamérica. Robby y Jose trabajan en Honduras en diseñar un curriculum de temas sobre estos conceptos para niños y jóvenes de primero a noveno grado para ser impartidos en las escuelas del país.

Nombre: Claudia Eveline Ortiz Lopez

País: Honduras

Idiomas: Español, Ingles

Posición: Curricular Investigador

Afiliación: Marine Conservation without Borders

Profesión: Educadora

Bio: Born in Juticalpa, Olancho but raised in La Ceiba, Atlantida, she learned to love the beach since a very young age and grew to respect the ocean with all its components by visiting them weekly.  She attended college at CURLA- Centro de Estudios Regionales del Litoral Atlántico- in La Ceiba for her first college year but later on she moved to Tegucigalpa, the capital city, and attended UNAH –Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Honduras- for the rest of her studies in Microbiology.  From Universidad Europea Miguel de Cervantes she received her Master’s Degree in Strategic Business Management on 2013. During her early years as an Educator in Tegucigalpa, she began to teach her own children at home and later on, opened her own private bilingual school in Danli, El Paraiso known as the prestigious Pebbles and Stones Christian Academy. Many doors were opened for her to be considered in other schools as a supporter and developer for several departments, traveling to different countries, learning their particular culture and processes of teaching and learning. Since she’s always been passionate about what she does, she has gone farther than others, reaching the lives of many, continually changing and improving her personal abilities and skills.      


Name: Grazzia Matamoros
Position: Photographic Contributor
Country: Honduras
Language(s): Spanish, English, Swedish.
Affiliation: Independent consultant in sustainable fisheries and marine conservation
Occupation: Biologist

BioGrazzia is a biologist from Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. She has work and research experience in protected areas management, collective action for the governance of marine resources and fishery improvement projects. She loves being involved in anything that is connected with our oceans and the power of people to build sustainability. In her first job she worked with fishers in the Pacific Coast of Honduras to help them improve their livelihoods through the installation of artisanal Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) and creation of regulations for their use. 

In 2007 she moved to the Bay Islands, off the north coast of Honduras, to work at an NGO responsible for the co-management of a Marine Protected Area (MPA). She liked her job very much, but the organization had conflicts with local communities within the MPA. She later understood the importance of involving communities in the management of their resources and in decision-making processes. She also thought she could improve the project by studying social anthropology. In 2011 she decided to change the warm, tropical breeze and colorful coral reefs, for the capital of Scandinavia, Stockholm, to pursue a MSc in social-ecological resilience for sustainable development at Stockholm University.

With her new skills and knowledge, and a lifelong passion for the ocean and its resources, she moved back to Central America to work at World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as a fisheries and marine conservation technical officer. Her principal assignment involved the coordination, planning and implementation of three Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs) in Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. On her day-to-day tasks, she worked with the people ‘acting locally’ to improve the sustainability of fisheries- from fishers and processing plants, to municipal and national authorities.

Grazzia moved back to Sweden at the end of 2016 and has become even more curious of how global trade is linked to marine ecosystems in developing countries. Also, how consumers in Europe can contribute to the sustainability of small-scale fisheries by making responsible decisions when purchasing seafood. Grazzia is a big fan of seafood, besides being concerned about the current state of the world’s fish stocks, she spends her free time cooking delicious recipes inspired by the sea.

LinkedIn: Grazzia Matamoros

Nombre: Fausto Antonio Elvir Valle
Posición: Fotógrafo contribuyente
Profesión: Biólogo Miembro de la Fundación en Ciencias para el Estudio y Conservación de la Biodiversidad INCEBIO
Ocupación: Investigador en Mamíferos Terrestres y Voladores
País: Honduras
Idiomas: Español, Inglés nivel de lectura

Bio: Biólogo investigador en mamíferos con especialidad en trampas cámara, análisis de las imágenes y ordenamiento de datos. Experiencia en Ecología de Poblaciones, estadística y Sistemas de Información Geográfica (SIG). Capacitador en Monitoreo Biológico en Honduras y otros países de Centro América. Presentador principal de 20 trabajos de investigación en Congresos de la Sociedad Mesoamericana para la Biología y la Conservación. Educación ambiental en temas referentes a la conservación de especies silvestres. Trabajos de conservación de Ara macao (Guara Roja), Ara ambiguous (Guara Verde) y felinos en la Moskitia Hondureña.


Nombre: Adan Arturo Aguilar Flores

País: Honduras

Idiomas: Español, Ingles nivel lectura

Posición: Autor Colaborador

Afiliación: Departamento de Biologia de Centro Universitario Regional del Litoral Atlantico - Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Honduras- UNAH-CURLA

Profesión:  Biologa-Zoología- Aves



Nombre: Eydi Yanina Guerrero-Medina              

País: Honduras

Idiomas: Español, Ingles nivel lectura

Posición: Autor Colaborador

Afiliación: Departamento de Biologia de Centro Universitario Regional del Litoral Atlantico - Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Honduras- UNAH-CURLA Profesión: Biologa-Botanica                                         Eydi Yanina Guerrero nació en Esquías Comayagua  un lugar con mucha historia, ya que desde pequeña tuvo contacto con la rica flora y fauna y ademas dedicarse a colectar fósiles desde muy temprana edad. Estudio biología en la Universidad Autónoma de Honduras (UNAH), realizo su practica profesional en el Herbario Paul C. Standley de la Escuela Agricola Panamericana de Zamorano, en este lugar laboro durante 7 años en diversos proyectos especialmente en la region centroamericana, le permitió conocer la flora del país al incorporarse en diversos proyectos. Octubre de 2010 inicia como parte de el cuerpo de profesores de el departamento de Biologia de CURLA, en la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras, en septiembre de 2011, es nombrada jefa del departamento de Biologia impulsando el Herbario CURLA, desde donde se incorpora en prouyectos de investigación en las áreas marinas protegidas del litoral atlántico.  En la actualidad sigue colaborando desde las aulas de clases con sus estudiantes en diferentes proyectos. 

Al presente, Yanina, colabora con Robby Thigpen y la Conservación Marina Sin Frontera, en enseñar conceptos fundamentales de conservación de recursos marino costeros a jóvenes de diferentes países de Latinoamérica. Robby y José Antonio Romero trabajan en Honduras en diseñar un curriculum de temas sobre estos conceptos para niños y jóvenes de primero a noveno grado para ser impartidos en las escuelas del país.


Name: Gabriela Ochoa

Country: Honduras

Language(s): Spanish, English

Position: Contributing Author

AffiliationMar Alliance

Bio: Gaby is the Country Coordinator for Honduras with MarAlliance, where she works towards improving understanding and conservation of threatened marine species, specifically sharks and rays on the Mesoamerican reef system. She currently leads MarAlliance’s education, outreach and research programs in Honduras.  Most recently she completed the first marine megafauna monitoring in the country and results will be translated into better management decisions for these iconic species. Prior to working with MarAlliance, Gabriela worked for the GEF Small Grant Programme working on different developmental projects with strong conservation emphasis. There she had the opportunity to work along side artisanal fishers on the pacific coast of Honduras to standardize sea turtle monitoring methods for Olive Ridleys. She is very passionate about marine conservation in her home country and working together with community based organizations and fishers to improve marine megafauna stewardship. Gabriela grew up in the mainland of Honduras and studied Marine Biology at Texas A&M University; she is currently based on the Island of Roatan.


Nombre: Héctor Orlando Portillo Reyes
Posición: Coordinador de Investigaciones
Ocupación: Investigador
Afiliación: INCEBIO (Fundación en Ciencias para el Estudio y Conservación de la Biodiversidad)
País: Honduras
Idiomas: Español, Ingles

Bio: Mi interés profesional es la investigación en su concepto amplio de biodiversidad, con interés en la ecología de poblaciones y sus ensambles, con énfasis en mamíferos/Psitácidos. Así mismo en fragmentación de bosques, enlaces de paisaje y sus relaciones ecológicas. Los temas de interés han estado relacionados con la composición, estructura distribución, la abundancia, e índices de diversidad, Así mismo los efectos de las variaciones climáticas a nivel local, regional, nacional y mundial. Las áreas de trabajo en Honduras han sido las áreas protegidas de la costa Caribe, la región de la Mosquitia hondureña. Otra de las regiones de interés son las áreas protegidas de la región central montañosa de Honduras, como el Parque Nacional la Tigra, las Reservas Biológicas de El Chile, Guajiquiro, Montecillos, entre otras. Versátil en la temática ambiental de Honduras y su contexto global y conocedor de las estructuras públicas y privadas ambientales del país.



Name: Antonio Busiello

Country: Italy

Language(s): Italian, English, Spanish

Position: Photographic Contributor

AffiliationAntonio Busiello Photography

Occupation: Photographer

Bio: Antonio Busiello is an award winning photographer known for his focus on the relationship between man and the natural world that surrounds him. A native of Italy, Antonio studied anthropology at the University of Naples, where he developed a deep interest in mankind and its cultural differences. After graduation he started traveling the world concentrating on his photography. He lived in Central America for many year before moving to California and now lives in London. In 2010 his passion and love for nature brought him to Africa where where he shot Storm Gathering, a photograph that captured 1st prize in the prestigious BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year in the black & white category. Later that same image was included in the "Best Wildlife Images of the last Fifty Years," published by London's Natural History Museum in 2015. By combining his interest in humankind and his passion for the natural world Antonio has created numerous photographic essays. For example, Pride from Atacama, Camp of Shame or "The Cullatore," in his anthropological project about the Festival of Lillies in Italy, won the gold medal from the Royal Photographic Society. Most recently World Wildlife Fund hired him to shoot its 2016 global campaign. In 2016 his photograph Sinking Venice was chosen as part of the CIWEM - Environmental Photographer of the Year exhibition held at the Royal Geographic Society in London, the third time his work was honored there. In the same year he started freelancing for for the renowned Italian magazine DOVE, where his assignments focused on Naples, his hometown. Antonio's story telling through photography has caught the interest of museums, including the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, in Washington DC and London Natural History Museum which have featured his work. Additionally his media has appeared in a wide variety of media such as National Geographic, World Wildlife Fund, Time, Discovery Channel, BBC Wildlife, Huffington Post and the Washington Post to name just a few.

In California Antonio is working on an ongoing extensive project about the Channel Islands. A number of his images are part of of the permanent exhibition at the National Park Visitors Center in Ventura, California, including his famous "Anacapa Arch", which has become the park's iconic image.


Name: Joseph Amollo Ayienga
Position: Regional Coordinator
Affiliation: Vessels of Treasure
Position: Director
Country: Kenya
People Group: Luhya
Language(s): Luhya, Luganda, Luo, Kinyarwanda, Kiswahili and English

Bio: Joseph Amollo Ayienga is the Founder of Vessels of Treasure located in Kenya and Rwanda. High poverty levels and wars in Africa have left many women and girls with no alternative but to go to the streets as sex workers to earn money to feed their children. HIV/AIDS are already horrific problems in sub-Saharan Africa. When women are faced with either prostitution or seeing their children go to sleep hungry, the risk of HIV/AIDS seems unimportant if their children can have food to eat. Like Marine Conservation without Borders, we believe that respect, education in their mother tongue and alternate means of maintaining their families will empower impoverished women and girls to not only enhance control of their destiny through better choices and opportunities but will also endow them with a greater responsibility to the protect these terrestrial and marine ecosystems that their families are dependent upon.

I met Robby Thigpen when he came to live with us in Western Kenya in the 1990’s. He was different from the other mzungu. We traveled together as far west as Jinja, Uganda and to the Maasai lands in the south. He lived among us and slept in the manyatta, ate our food and learned our languages while respecting and listening to us. Even then he had a great passion for the indigenous peoples of our region and the wildlife here. He helped sick animals and people with a love and concern that I have only seen in him.

Robby has no fear. One time we heard about a dangerous leopard poacher, Robby went directly to the poacher’s shambe and challenged him. He drank tea and ate bread with the poacher and talked for the entire day and into the night. He taught the poacher why the leopard was more valuable alive to his family than dead. Robby speaks of these things with authority of someone that not only commands knowledge of the importance of these species to the ecosystem and to the community, but also of someone that is aware of the personal needs of the local family. He also acknowledged that sometimes a man will have to hunt herbivorous animals to feed his family and that apex predators can sometimes be dangerous to people. Then he pointed out that this man was not trying to feed or protect his family, that he was simply a poacher stealing his children’s heritage. In the end, the man agreed that these animals were more valuable alive to his family, his village and the people of Kenya than they are dead. After this I remember the man becoming a local advocate for protecting these apex predators and the other animals that are important to tourism in his village. I am very happy to be a part of the Marine Conservation without Borders team and know that many of the women and girls we serve will benefit from an ecosystems education project that embodies the characteristics that I have seen in its founder.

Name: Larina Nashipai
Country: Kenya
Language: Maasai, English, Swahili
Position: Contributing Author
Affiliation: Kenyatta University
Occupation: Conservation Biologist

Bio: Larina Nashipai is a 22 year old Maasai woman. She was raised in the Rift Valley of Kenya in the Maasai culture of her forebears. In 2013 she began her studies at Jomo Kenyatta University (JKU) in Nairobi to pursue a career in conservation. She is achieving this through the Kenya system of education of 8-4-4, 8 year in primary school, 4 years in secondary school and 4 years in the University. Currently she is a fourth year student at JKU and will receive her BS in conservation biology in 2017.

Nashipai likes to spend her leisure time performing her research on the root causes and on the impact of land use change. She has a project on land use change among the Maasai community. Her research site is in Narok, Kenya. Currently she is collecting data on how land use change from pastoralism affects the availability of herbs and the indigenous forest in the area. She is also investigating sustainable land use mechanisms to help people avoid unintended interactions with endangered species, especially those that under threat of extinction in the near future. These accidental interactions are sometimes deadly to the people and usually end with the extermination of the animal. If these accidental contacts can be avoided, then these critically endangered animals will have a better chance of survival.


Hilario Poot Cahun Mexico

Nombre: Hilario Poot Cahun
País: México
Idiomas: Yucateca, Español
Posición: Traductor Cultural
Afiliación: Universidad Intercultural Maya de Quintana Roo
Ocupation: Profesor-Investigador


Bio: Hilario Poot Cahun nació en Tihosuco, Quintana Roo. Es Licenciado en Lengua y Cultura. En verano 2010 atendió un Seminario de Liderazgo en Universidad de Arizona, EE.UU. En verano 2014 atendió el taller: “Documentación de Lenguas Indígenas” en Universidad de Texas Arlington, EE.UU. Actualmente Profesor-Investigador, Traductor (Español-Maya-Español) y estudiante de la maestría en Educación Intercultural en la Universidad Intercultural Maya de Quintana Roo (UIMQRoo).

Name: Juan Jacobo Schmitter-Soto
Country: México
Language(s): Spanish, English, Esperanto, French, German, Russian
Position: Contributing Author
Affiliation: El Colegio de la Frontera Sur
Occupation: Biologist, fish specialist


  • Mexico City, 1965.
  • B.Sc. in Biology (UNAM, 1989), Master in Marine Science (CICIMAR-IPN, 1992), Doctor in Biology of Aquatic Systems and Resources (UNAM, 1998), Posdoctorate (University of Michigan, Fulbright fellow)
    • More than 80 scientific publications, in addition to some 30 popularizing articles; about 1600 citations.
    • Former president and founder of the Mexican Ichthyological Society.
    • Science State Prize in Quintana Roo, Mexico, 2008, for the project The Fishes of Southern de Quintana Roo: a decade of changes
  • Interested in ichthyology: systematics, synecology, and biogeography of freshwater fishes of Mexico and Central America, as well as ecology of Caribbean reef fishes.
  • Current project: Connectivity mediated by fish migration between the Caribbean Sea and the bay of Corozal/Chetumal, Belize-Mexico.



Nombre: Geodisio Castillo
País: Panamá
Idiomas: Guna, Español, Ruso
Posición: Facilitador
Afiliación: Centro de Desarrollo Ambiental y Humano
Profesión: Ing. Agroforestal

Bio: GEODISIO CASTILLO. Agroforestal, nacido en la comunidad de Yandub-Narganá, Comarca Kuna Yala, Panamá. Su primera enseñanza fue en la Escuela Rodolfo Chiari de su comunidad. Sus estudios secundarios de bachillerato en ciencias los realizó en la ciudad de Colón en el Colegio San José La Salle y luego los finaliza en la capital, en la Escuela Secundaria Nocturna oficial (ESNO). En 1975 viaja a la Unión Soviética para ingresar al Centro de Agronomía en la ciudad de Briansk, finaliza sus estudios en 1980. Regresa al país y labora como docente en el Instituto Profesional y Técnico (agrícola) de Kuna Yala (1980-1982). Se especializa en planificación de recursos naturales e investigación de técnicas agroforestales, en el Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza por la Universidad de las Naciones Unidas en Costa Rica (1983). Labora como planificador y luego como Sub-Director del Proyecto de Ecología y Manejo de Áreas Silvestres de Kuna Yala (PEMASKY, 1983-1989). Fue miembro de la Junta Directiva de la Fundación de Parques Nacionales y Medio Ambiente de Panamá (PA.NA.MA), 1988-1990. Fundó la Fundación Dobbo Yala y fue su primer presidente (1990-1994). Director Ejecutivo del Programa de Ecología y Manejo de Áreas Silvestres de Kuna Yala (PEMASKY, 1995-2003). Fundador del Centro de Desarrollo Ambiental y Humano (CENDAH, 2004). Facilitó apoyo al Congreso General Kuna como Secretario de la Junta Directiva del Instituto de Investigación y Desarrollo de Kuna Yala (IIDKY, 2004-2005). Laboró como Administrador Regional de la Autoridad Nacional del Ambiente en Kuna Yala (2005-2009). Laboró como Director Ejecutivo del IIDKY (2012-2013). Como CENDAH - miembro del Comité Científico para la Iniciativa Internacional de los Arrecifes Coralinos (ICRI), en el Comité Científico Asesor de ARAP en ICRI, a partir del 2013. Y miembro de la Red del Programa Iberoamericano de Ciencia y Tecnología para el Desarrollo y Adaptación basada en ecosistemas para la gestión sostenible de los recursos marinos en el caribe (RED CYTED - CARIBERO.SOS), a partir del 2014. Actualmente realiza consultoría como especialista del proyecto Sistema de Producción Sostenible y Conservación de la Biodiversidad (SPSCB) del Ministerio de Ambiente (MiAmbiente). Sigue siendo presidente de CENDAH, facilitador y consultor independiente.

Name: Luis Ernesto Sánchez Osorio
Country: Panama
Position: Contributing Author
Language (s): Spanish
Affiliation: University of Panama
Occupation: Zoology, Biodiversity and Conservation of Mollusks

Bio: Professor in the Department of Zoology, Columbus University Regional Center, University of Panama. Specialist in zoology with orientation in malacology, University of Panama. Master's degree in zoology, University of Panama. Has been researcher of ABIOCRUC. Science Advisor for the Association student of biological research BIOFUTURE. His research is on biodiversity and conservation of mollusks. He has been Professor at the University of Panama, Panama's Ministry of Education, inter-American University of education distance UNIEDPA, in the departments of Environmental Biologia-Ciencias Naturales-Medio and Humano-ecologia - embryology-biology, Marina-anatomia development and comparative human-anatomy of vertebrates and invertebrate genetic statistics.

Name: Francisco Farnum
Country: Panamá
Position: Contributing Author
Language(s): Spanish, English
Affiliation: Universidad de Panamá
Occupation: Plant Biology/Natural Resource Management

Bio: Conservationist, wildlife biologist and naturalist Francisco Farnum received his degrees in biology and education from Universidad de Panama. He is a professor in the department of botany and director of the school of biology at the University Regional Center of Colón. He has been a researcher of PROBIO, CIMECNE and CEREB. In 2008 he founded and advised Biofuture, the student association of biological research. He researches forest ecology and ethnobotany. He has been a lecturer at the University of Panama, Interamerican University of Distance Education, American University.


Nombre: Barbara Barrera Vilarmau
País: España
Idiomas: Español / Inglés
Posición: Autor colaborador
Afiliación: Refugio de Vida Silvestre Laguna Urpiano
Profesión: Bióloga de Ecosistemas

Bio: Barbara Vilarmau es una bióloga española que tras finalizar sus estudios en la Universidad de Salamanca en 2010, se embarcó en la aventura de conocer las tortugas marinas del paraíso de la biodiversidad que es Costa Rica. Tras trabajar en diversos proyectos de conservación de tortugas marinas en Costa Rica y Panamá se embarcó en la dirección científica del Refugio de Vida Silvestre Laguna Urpiano. Allí, además de seguir el estudio poblacional de la mayor colonia de tortuga baula del caribe y tratar de recuperar nidadas de la gran presión humana; se realizan también diversas labores de mantenimiento del ecosistema forestal y su fauna así como educación ambiental de la población local y visitante.

United States

Name: Chuck Adams

Country: USA

Language(s): English

Position: Contributing Author

Affiliation: University of Florida, Florida Sea Grant

Occupation: Professor / Marine Economics Specialist

Bio: Dr. Adams, a fifth generation Texan, received his BS in Fisheries Science and his MS in Agricultural Economics from Texas A&M University. He earned a PhD from the University of Florida's Food and Resource Economics Department (FRED) in 1984. He was hired as an Assistant Professor that same year in FRED and was promoted to Full Professor in 1994. He is also the Marine Economics Specialist for the Florida Sea Grant Program at UF, a position he has also held since 1984. Dr. Adams has an Extension appointment, but is heavily engaged in a wide variety of applied research efforts. His primary areas of specialty includes addressing economic issues related to marine fisheries management, seafood markets and demand, marine aquaculture feasibility, coastal industry valuation and impact, and the economic implications of changes in coastal environmental conditions. His work serves to assist industry, agency, and public user groups in their decisions regarding marine resource management, utilization, and investment. Dr. Adams has served on the Scientific and Statistical Committee of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic Fisheries Management Councils, and currently serves as a Task Force member for the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission. He was a Gulf-region Sea Grant representative for the Gulf Seafood Marketing Coalition. Dr. Adams has published in a wide variety of economics and environmental journals, and has most recently been funded by the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission, the Gulf and South Atlantic Fisheries Foundation, the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission, USDA, the Florida Sea Grant College Program, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, NOAA, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Dr. Adams is a member of the International Institute of Fisheries Economics and Trade, the North American Association of Fisheries Economists, the National Shellfisheries Association, and the International Association of Aquaculture Economics and Management.  He is currently on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Harmful Algae, the Journal of Shellfish Research, and the Journal of the International Association of Aquaculture Economics and Management.  Though his efforts have been mostly directed to issues within the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic regions, he has also been engaged in research projects in Micronesia, Nicaragua, Cuba, and Greece. 

Name: Katie Deas Brooks
Position: Testing and Activity Development
Country: United States of America
Language(s): English
Affiliation: University of North Carolina Wilmington
Occupation: Student

Bio: Katie Deas Brooks is a rising freshman at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW.) She plans to study marine biology at UNCW and focus on the conservation of reefs and marshlands. She hopes to spread awareness of conservation efforts to Caribbean countries, she accepted the opportunity to work on the project. Her cousin Robby Thigpen has told her stories of his lobster studies in Belize since she was young. This inspired her to pursue her passion for marine science and make a career of taking action against the depletion of marine ecosystems. In order for societies in the Caribbean basin to thrive and sustain their cultural/economical practices, their understanding of conservation is critical. Katie is thrilled to work alongside the diverse contributors of Marine Conservation without Borders to further this initiative.

Ashley Epling

Name: Ashley Epling
Country: USA
Language(s): English
Position: BOD
Affiliation: Epling Farm
Occupation: Organic Farmer

Bio: Ashley Epling is a small farmer in the mountains of North Carolina. She holds a BS in Ecology & Environmental Biology from Appalachian State University. She is passionate about building resilient food systems that sustain our land, water, and resources as well as people and traditional livelihoods. Ashley's family farm business focuses on sustainable practices, heritage varieties & breeds, and traditional foodways. She also volunteers as president for the Asheville chapter of Slow Food USA .


Name: Grace Fortune
Country: USA
Language(s): English
Position: BOD
Affiliation: Appalachian State University
Occupation: GEAR UP ASU- College Access Partnerships

Bio: Grace Fortune worked with middle school children on the coast of North Carolina in Wilmington and in the mountains of NC in Boone, NC. She taught a class through the public school system entitled Project Venture. Project Venture is an experiential learning opportunity to encourage students to take care of themselves, their families, friends, community and the environment.

Grace taught team-building and communication games to students with the goal of increasing respect and self-reliance. Grace led students on outdoor adventure trips including: biking, bike maintenance, kayaking, river ecology, leave no trace, caving, hiking, camping, bow drill fires, knots, and ropes courses. Students learned a love and respect for their natural surroundings in hopes of creating environmental stewards for the future of Appalachia and across the globe. Students participated in community service projects to gain the sense of pride in giving back to others.

Grace’s current efforts include educating students and parents about college access opportunities for low income and first generation students. She continues to draw from the learning experiences in outdoor pursuits and community service. She is committed to providing experiential learning opportunities and giving youth the power to take care of themselves and their communities.


Name: Madison Heltzel
Country: U.S.A
Language(s): English
Position: Illustrator
Affiliation: Marine Conservation Without Boarders
Occupation: Artist/Care Provider

Bio: Madison is an Artist based in Asheville, North Carolina. She has a lifelong interest in the conservation and protection of the natural world, and uses art as a medium to raise awareness about ecological issues. In 2013 she graduated from Guilford College in Greensboro, NC with a double major in Studio Art and Religious Studies. She has experience in many fields including conservation research, environmental education, wilderness therapy, and providing support for the Autistic community. She loves traveling and exploring mountains, forests, and oceans across the world. She met Robby through like-minded friends who share our passion for the great outdoors.


Name: Thomas Dean King

Country: USA

Language(s): English

Position: Board of Directors

Affiliation: Marine Conservation without Borders

Occupation: Information Technology and Data Management

Bio: Tom studied cultural anthropology with a focus on collective action institutions, economic development, and resource management in fisheries settings. He earned his Ph.D. based on work conducted in Belize among the fisherman of the Northern Fisherman’s Cooperative Society.  Toward the end of his graduate education in 2000, Tom moved back to his home state of Minnesota, where he took up a career in information technology to pay for his education.  He has supported businesses across insurance, retail, finance, and healthcare.  He currently manages a data governance program for Optum, a division of UnitedHealth Group.

Tom’s tie to MCWB goes back to early discussions with Robby to form the ideas behind the Treasures “book project”.  Tom and Robby maintained a dialogue focused on the specific challenges and opportunities to promote a sustainable future for the fishing peoples of Belize.  Through the work supporting the mission and vision of Marine Conservation without Borders, Tom is applying his background in social science research, program management, and information technology and data management to help preserve the lifeways and ecosystems in places like Belize’s Northern Lagoon.

Tom currently lives in Minnesota where is spends his free time raising three children and nurturing their interests in youth sports, school, and other recreations.  When the stars align he may even get outside for a walk in the woods or a fishing trip with friends and family.

Name: Robert “Robby” C. Thigpen
Position: Executive Director
Occupation: Principal Investigator
Affiliation: Marine Conservation without Borders
Position: Principal Author, Editor & International Coordinator
Country: South Carolina
Language(s): American English, Kiswahili, Maasai, Lasoga, Pokot, East African English, Kriol (Belize), Ingles de Isleños y un poco Español

Bio: Robby unites his enthusiasm for culture and environmental stewardship in his many roles for Marine Conversation without Borders. This latter-day Bohemian studied cultural anthropology and a self-designed marine science program at Appalachian State University, as he guided class 5 rafting tours and solo climbed rock routes in the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains. Before that, he learned how the Maasai hunt lions from a Maasai elder. Indeed, he is a renaissance man like no other. He presently researches the artisanal fisheries of the western Caribbean as he meets with marine scientists, fisheries professionals, and indigenous peoples groups to ensure the accurate and clear transfer of marine and coastal conservation concepts from marine scientists to local fisher folk. This all-inclusive community driven focus is at the core of what he believes and how he lives his life. He has walked, swam, and taken boats across the borders of many of the countries of the Americas inspired by his desire to create an organization that delivers marine conservation science education in the languages of the people most immediately impacted by these over-exploited fisheries.

Name: Jim & Louise Anderson
Country: USA
Position: Advisors
Language(s): English, Swahili
Affiliation: SIL International
Occupation: Wycliffe Bible Translators (retired)

Bio: Jim was born in Kansas in 1941; Louise was born in Seattle in 1946. Jim attended two colleges in Kansas; Louise graduated from the University of Washington in 1968. After two years of teaching in the Seattle Public Schools Louise went to Ethiopia. There she taught third grade at Good Shepherd School, 1970-73. Together Jim and Louise helped facilitate language development and Bible translation in eastern Africa from 1986 to 2003.

Name: R. Leroy Creswell
Country: USA
Language(s): English
Position: Contributing Author
Affiliation: Florida Sea Grant
Occupation: Marine Biologist – focus on tropical aquaculture, coastal ecology, marine science education

Bio: LeRoy Creswell is a Regional Education Coordinator for the Sea Grant Marine Extension Program at the University of Florida in Fort Pierce, Florida. His extension responsibilities include education and outreach programs in fields related to marine resource utilization, including tourism, commercial and recreational fishing, aquaculture, and coastal zone management. Leroy began his Sea Grant appointment in 2000, and his activities during his tenure at UF include 1) construction, development, and stocking marine organisms for the Smithsonian Marine Ecosystem Exhibit, 2) commercial production of marine shrimp in freshwater pond systems (FDACS), 3) developing aquaculture methods for alternative bivalve species to diversify Florida’s hard-shell clam aquaculture industry (IFAS), and 4) coastal ecology and habitat restoration of oyster reefs and salt marsh vegetation.

For over 17 years, Leroy was a research scientist at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, Inc. and director of the Tropical Aquaculture department. His research focused on the development of aquaculture technologies for tropical marine invertebrates, including bivalve and gastropod mollusks, and several species of tropical crustaceans, such as the Caribbean spiny lobster. He also conducted studies on the larviculture and nutrition of ornamental marine fish and invertebrates. He holds two patents related to aquaculture, a trademarked line of ornamental fish feeds, and authored The Aquaculture Desk Reference. He taught graduate and undergraduate courses in aquaculture and served as adjunct faculty at Florida Institute of Technology and Indian River State College.

He served on the board of directors and was two-term president of the Caribbean Aquaculture Association and was the editor of The Caribbean Aquaculturist, a quarterly trade publication.

He served as director of the World Aquaculture Society and its president in 1994.

He continues to participate in annual conferences of WAS by serving on conference steering and program committees.

Leroy is a board member of the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute and is the executive secretary of the Institute. He has been the senior editor of the annual GCFI Proceedings during that period. Leroy is the past-president of the National Shellfisheries Association, two-term vice president, and a recipient of the prestigious David Wallace Award for his work in shellfish research and extension.

He is currently the editor of the NSA quarterly newsletter.

He is past-president of the Florida Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals.

Leroy has authored over 60 peer-reviewed publications and manuals, several invited book chapters, and has been the principal editor for 16 books related to aquaculture and fisheries.   He regularly reviews manuscripts for peer-reviewed journals, and serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Shellfish Research.

He coordinated an oyster restoration program for the Indian River Lagoon. In that capacity, he interacted with non-governmental organizations, municipal, county, and state agencies, public schools, and academic institutions to promote shellfish restoration and aquaculture for the environmental services and economic benefits they provide. Currently, he is project manager for the community-based Coastal Habitat Restoration, an initiative under development by Florida Sea Grant Extension Program.

Name: Andrew (Drew) A. Gentry
Position: Board of Directors
Occupation: Natural Resource Manager
Affiliation: City of Raleigh Parks Maintenance
Position: District Gardener
Country: United States
Language: English

Bio: Drew Gentry works in the Parks Department for the City of Raleigh, North Carolina. His focus is on restoring natural areas and stream corridors, chiefly by removing non-native invasive vegetation and replanting with native species. The goal is to provide better habitat for wildlife and to create better experiences with nature for the surrounding communities.

Drew attended Appalachian State University and met Robby Thigpen through the Biology Department. He was introduced to marine ecosystems through a course in coral reef biology, which included a research trip to Belize. When Robby was down there doing lobster research and living on Caye Caulker, Drew was one of the few North Carolinians to pay a visit, and spent many memorable days out there and on the mainland. Drew has seen Marine Conservation without Borders grow since its inception years ago, and joined the Board of Directors because he believes that conservation education is the key to preserving our natural heritage in perpetuity.

Name: Lee Odom
Country: USA
Language(s): English
Position: Board of Directors
Affiliation: Sweet Lee Music
Occupation: Musician/Composer

Bio: Lee Odom is a musician who has taken her classical training in clarinet performance and expanded to jazz and other genres of music. Lee studied classical clarinet under Dr. Douglas Miller at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. After receiving a grant from the Hickory Arts Council for her music, Summer Winds, which was geared to 2nd and 3rd year middle school band students, Lee ventured to New York and continued studying music with JD Parron, adding saxophone, flute and bass clarinet. She has performed at various venues and music festival in the NY. Her music repertoire consists of pieces from the classical, jazz, R&B, and groove music.

Lee has a great concern and respect for our Earth and all its inhabitants and shares a strong love and support for Marine Conservation without Borders. She is honored to be a part this fantastic organization that is dedicated to helping to preserve not only marine life, but indigenous languages as well.

Name: Robert Wayne Van Devender
Country: USA
Language(s): English
Position: Photographic Contributor
Affiliation: Appalachian State University
Occupation: Biologist

Bio: Robert Wayne Van Devender was born in Roswell NM in July of 1947 and was chasing lizards around the desert before he was three years old. He caught his first snake, a diamondback watersnake, when he was 7 or 8 and has been chasing small animals ever since. After diversions into hunting and fishing he was captured by the challenges and prospects of herpetology (study of amphibians and reptiles) by field trips to West Texas during high school in the Dallas TX area. Four years at Yale produced broader interests in science, herpetology, and photography in lieu of any artistic ability. Later, at the University of Michigan, he realized his longstanding desire to go to see and study tropical creatures during his dissertation work on Jesus Christ lizards (Basiliscus basiliscus). At Michigan he also met and eventually married Amy Shrader, who continues to share his life to the present. After receiving his Ph.D. in 1975 he worked in the Museum of Zoology at Michigan, taught at Oklahoma State University, and carried out field surveys of endangered species in Michigan until he was hired at Appalachian State University in 1978 to teach Mammalogy and Herpetology.

The Boone years have produced many milestones in Van Devender’s life: three children; new love for salamanders, land snails, and leeches; travels to five new continents; publication of thousands of photographs and several papers on salamanders and leeches; life-long relationships with students and colleagues; and productive relationships with local, regional, and international herpetological societies and the Association of Southeastern Biologists. Recent years have seen increased focus on distribution and biogeography of land snails and the development of skills in both the scanning electron microscopy and molecular biology laboratories. His students have studied mammals, reptiles, amphibians and problems ranging from stream siltation to movements of hellbenders to the effects of environmental pollution on local populations. He still visits schools with his snake show and enjoys teaching to groups from second grade through graduate students.


Name: Sarah Zurhellen
Position: Senior Editor, Board of Directors
Occupation: Lecturer at Appalachian State University
Affiliation: BOD Marine Conservation without Borders
Position: Senior Editor
Country: USA
Language: English

Bio: Sarah Zurhellen is a Lecturer in the Rhetoric and Composition Program at Appalachian State University, where she teaches freshman and sophomore writing classes and coordinates e-Portfolio technology for her department. She initially became involved in Marine Conservation without Borders as a senior editor and joined the Board of Directors because of her investment in the organization’s focus on the relationship between conserving ecological and linguistic diversity. Having spent many years as an assistant editor for the international journal Oral Tradition, she is dedicated to the idea that conserving the linguistic diversity of the world is inherently connected to conserving all of our natural resources.