Environment / Features / Weekend News

Belizean manatee researcher featured in WWF magazine

By Marion Ali, Staff Reporter

Jamal Galves, a manatee researcher and expert has received international attention through a feature article by the World Wildlife Fund’s magazine.

The magazine picked up Galves’ story from he was a child growing up in Gales Point Manatee Village. It states that Galves would frequently “stand on his grandparents’ lawn … and watch the stately beings swim through the lagoon. He spent lazy afternoons sitting on the dock, dreaming of one day being able to work with the gentle herbivores. And before he was a teen, his dream became a reality.”

Galves was only 12 years old when he caught the attention of a field research team, led by renowned manatee conservationist, Dr. James Powell. The team visited Belize every summer to tag and track manatees and that year they took the young Galves on their boat “to observe”.

That experience helped to mold Galves’ career. He eagerly anticipated the team’s return every year and helped out. Today, he is the coordinator of the Belize Manatee Project Program for the Sea to Shore Alliance, which protects and conserves coastal ecosystems and species.

The magazine reports that in his quest to do more for manatees, last year Galves received a WWF Education for Nature grant to learn about wildlife rehabilitation. It has enabled him to apply better techniques when assisting injured or stranded animals.

Galves’ role in Belize is key because he assists and studies manatees, which is an endangered species because they constantly are casualties of boating collisions and habitat destruction, water pollution and poaching.

Galvez told The Reporter, “I am just their messenger an I am only lucky that my aquatic friends allowed me a space in their spotlight. I guess it is a token of being that voice for them.”

Galves said he never imagined as a child that manatees would one day be endangered, but that he is optimistic about their future. He encourages Belizeans to support manatees through donations to their cause by visiting www.sea2shore.org/

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