ocenaOn Saturday, September 27th, Biologist Lisa Carne and manatee expert Jamal Galvez were formally recognized as OCEANA’s 2014 Ocean Hero Award Winners. In 2006, Carne witnessed the devastating impact of Hurricane Iris in Southern Belize and was deeply troubled by the vulnerability of Belize’s marine environment to climate change through rising sea temperatures and stronger storm surges. Using the Laughing Bird Caye National Park as a natural laboratory, Carne established a coral “nursery” in attempt to restore critically endangered Acropora corals. Today, with support from the communities of Independence and Placencia, her “Fragments of Hope” project has more than five thousand out-plants in more than eighteen sub-sites.

As for Galvez he has been a self-proclaimed “manatee protector” since age eleven. To date he is a recognized expert of manatees and his affection for the animal has propelled the need to protect manatees into national consciousness since they are an endangered species due to threats like boat collisions, destructive gear like nets and even poverty.

The Ocean Hero award began in 2009 as a way for Oceana to recognize and celebrate exceptional accomplishments in ocean conservation, advocacy and education taking place globally. Past Belizean recipients include Lionel “Chocolate” Heredia and Dr. Melanie McField.

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