Jamal Galves
Author: Stephen Frink / Getty Images
2023

Jamal Galves

Manatee Conservationist

Manatee maestro: preserving belize’s gentle giants

meet jamal

Jamal Galves, known globally as “The Manatee Man,” is a conservationist, and a National Geographic Explorer. Since the age of 11, he has been working to conserve the endangered Antillean manatees of Belize, work for which he as received many awards and accolades. Galves, who serves as the Program Coordinator for the Florida-based Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute, is completing his Masters in Coastal Science and Policy at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His research looks at utilizing the endangered Antillean manatees of Belize as a flagship species to safeguard critical coastal habitats.

Manatee maestro: preserving belize’s gentle giants
Nominated by: Joe Grabowski FI'18
Class of 2023 Location Belize


In addition to serving as the lead manatee conservationist in Belize—coordinating research, rescue, health assessments, tracking, and outreach—I am also the assistant chairperson for the National Manatee Working Group, a network of governmental, nongovernmental, and local citizenry committed to developing policies and programs to mitigate the human impact on manatee populations. In this capacity, I have endeavored to rejuvenate what had, for some years, become a dormant network. I have also rescued more than 25 manatees and have developed training programs and stranding toolkits for use by our representatives in the field.

Our network has achieved numerous conservation successes. These include the designation of protected areas and wildlife sanctuaries, as well as the development and implementation of nationwide training programs for tour guides and boat captains. In addition, we have drafted boating restrictions to address the primary threat to our manatees: the threat of watercraft collision. I have personally been responsible for the education of some 3,000 boaters on operating safely in manatee areas and have supported tour guides as they transition to best practices—responsible and ecofriendly ways of doing business. Awareness is key for any conservation effort to succeed. Toward this end, we have also developed a national education, awareness, and inspiration campaign that is expanding globally. Through this initiative, we have inspired both young and old to become stewards of the environment.

“Toward this end, we have also developed a national education, awareness, and inspiration campaign that is expanding globally. Through this initiative, we have inspired both young and old to become stewards of the environment.”

- Jamal Galves


In addition to authoring numerous publications highlighting the plight of manatees, I represent Belize, both regionally and internationally, providing expertise to organizations such as the International Union for Conservation of Nature. I have also assisted in the updating of the Belize National Manatee Recovery Plan and plan to play a key role in its implementation. My hope for the future is not just to protect an endangered species from extinction, but to inspire the next generation of conservationists who will ensure the continued safety of this iconic species.

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