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Sep 30, 2022

Meet the 2022 Ocean Heroes

The 2022 Ocean Heroes Award ceremony was held virtually on Thursday night. And, in its tradition of honoring those who have been serving as champions in marine conservation, advocacy and education, OCEANA Belize welcomes two other heroes to its list of protectors.  Those Ocean Hero awardees are doctors Rachel Graham and Leandra Cho-Ricketts. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

It’s been over a decade since OCEANA Belize has been identifying and shining a light on individuals who have been going above and beyond to assist with the protection of our marine environment in some way or the other.


Alyssa Carnegie

Alyssa Carnegie, Communications Director, OCEANA Belize

“We will honor women and men who are showing us every day that the change and progress in ocean conservation, advocacy and education is within our reach. The awards recognise men and women from the fields of policy, science, education, entrepreneurship and civil society whose initiatives have left a positive and lasting impact on the marine environment.”


Communications Director Alyssa Carnegie says that every sector and age group can provide the leadership and vision needed to bring about transformative change. Like former awardees such as Jamal Galvez, Guadalupe Lampella, Michael Heusner, Wil Maheia and Madison Edwards, the 2022 Ocean Heroes have helped with the resiliency of the environment.


Janelle Chanona

Janelle Chanona, Vice President, OCEANA Belize

“While Belize might be small, there are giants walking among us. Men and women who are standing up and speaking out so that the integrity of our natural resources guarantees the quality of our lives. The Belizeans we’ve been honoured to recognise as ocean heroes are testament to the fact that when the odds are against us, that’s when our resilience rises, that is when we are our strongest, that is when the hope we dare to grasp with both hands drives us forward.”


This year’s heroes are described as frontliners behind the scenes, as they provide invaluable information and data for the survival of Belize’s waters. 2022 Ocean Hero Doctor Rachel Graham has worked with fishers and partners in several countries to identify threats, research needs and conservation opportunities for threatened marine wildlife. Data on whale shark and shark conservation in Belize came from data collected from Doctor Graham.


Rachel Graham

Dr. Rachel Graham, Ocean Hero 2022

“If you had a straight line that would not be my life or my journey. Mine started with a passion for marginalised animals when I was three or four years old. I love sharks all the way back then and bats and snakes and I’ve worked with all of them. And it took a few amazing encounters, especially with sharks to get me on the track that I am today.”


Amanda Acosta

Amanda Acosta, Belize Audubon Society

“Her work is across the globe. She doesn’t only work in Belize; she works across the globe working towards shark and mega fauna conservation.”


Jamal Andrewin

Jamal Andrewin, MarAlliance

“Much of the work that we know of Doctor Graham achieving over the years has been predominantly on behalf of Belize and its marine ecosystem and again the people that depend on it, specifically Belizeans.”


Doctor Leandra Cho-Ricketts was also tapped as a 2022 Ocean Hero. She has, for almost two decades, been working to advance marine conservation science, management and strategic planning nationally.


Vincent Palacio

Vincent Palacio, President, University of Belize

“Dr. Ricketts has given much of her life to the marine resources. She has studied it at the highest level to a PhD Marine Biology and she has worked in various capacities – not only at the national university, the University of Belize, but in other aspects in the country looking at the marine resources as well.”


Elma Kay

Elma Kay, University of Belize

“Over the last fifteen years, we worked together both as faculty members at the University of Belize and then co-creators and founders of the University of Belize Environmental Research Institute. And I feel really fortunate because unlike most people in leadership positions, I never felt alone because she was my real partner. We were able to celebrate wins together, we were able to co-create, we were able to find solutions to challenges together.”


Leandra Cho-Ricketts

Dr. Leandra Cho-Ricketts, Ocean Hero 2022

“I was always interested in the sea especially coral reefs. I remember the first time I saw a video about coral reefs, I imagined myself being there, working in the water. And it wasn’t until I hit university that I actually got to see a coral reef. It’s late in my life, but from I jumped in the water and started to snorkel, I knew that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”


Congratulations to the 2022 Ocean Heroes.  Duane Moody for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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