Meet Jamal Galves, A Belizean Conservationist and Research Biologist
They’re gentle giants that are fast becoming an endangered species, but manatees have a friend in Belize conservationist and research biologist Jamal Galves. If he has his way, these marine mammals will be making a comeback in the future, which is why we’re proud to say that Jamal is Barefoot’s Belizean personality of the month.
Jamal’s efforts to keep these animals from becoming extinct are nothing short of extraordinary.
Even before Jamal dedicated his life to manatees, he heard their siren call growing up in Gales Point Manatee, Belize. He became fascinated with them as a child and his interest never abated, which made his career choice a natural one. As National Geographic Explorer and Program Coordinator for the Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute (formally Sea to Shore Alliance), Jamal was able to turn his passion into a successful career.
As the Bible says, “To whom much is given, much is expected,” and Jamal’s life is an homage to that directive. His work involves conserving endangered Antillean manatees and using all of the skills he acquired during his Conservation Leadership Programme and Caribbean Emerging Wildlife Leaders program training.
Modesty is one of Jamal’s most endearing traits. “Basically, I am a voice for endangered Antillean manatees,” he explains. His responsibilities in this capacity include countrywide community-related education and outreach programs. He also coordinates the Belize Marine Mammal Stranding Network and helps track and monitor tagged manatees in the wild.
Jamal was named an Oceana Ocean Hero and a Belize National Hero by the Governor General and the World Wildlife Fund respectively. His story of dedication has been featured in publications that include “My Beautiful Belize,” “World Wildlife Fund” and “Dodo” magazines.
“To stand up and speak up for those that cannot stand up and speak for themselves is a privilege that I don’t take lightly,” Jamal says, “and my concern doesn’t stop with manatees. I also worry about child abuse and poverty. I’m no savior. I am simply trying to do my part to make and leave this world better than I found it, especially for the next generation.”
If Belize manatees could thank Jamal for his dedication and passion, we’re pretty sure they would, but in their place, it’s incumbent upon management and staff of Barefoot Rentals and Services to salute Jamal on their behalf. We take pride in acknowledging his dedication and commitment to creatures great and small as he continues to pursue his important mission into the future!