OCEANA, a non-profit foundation dedicated to supporting ocean advocacy, has declared several citizens of Belize an “Ocean Hero” in recognition of their commitment to environmental conservation and helping to educate the public about the importance of protecting the waters of Belize. OCEANA’s 2017 Ocean Hero awards were given to Madison Edwards, age 11, and Luz Hunter, a lifelong tour guide and outspoken environmental advocate.
Despite her young age, Madison Edwards is an internationally-known marine conservationist, particularly focused on sea turtles and manatees, both endangered species now making a comeback in Belize. Speaking to the press, Edwards described an Ocean Hero as, “A person that is working to help marine life, not just sitting down and hoping for something good to happen. No matter your size or age, everyone can make a difference.”
Earlier this year, Edwards spent a week sailing the length of the Belize Barrier Reef to collect and remove discarded plastic bottles, fishing nets and lines, and other debris that can cause damage to marine wildlife. Edwards regularly blogs on the iTravelBelize website and is a native of San Pedro on Ambergris Caye.
Luz Hunter began her career as a guide on the reefs near Ambergris Caye in 1980. Working as a cook, guide and deckhand on chartered boats sailing the reefs of Belize, Hunter began pursuing an academic career in naturalist studies in 1986. She now teaches marine ecology to visiting American university students, is a certified tour guide trainer for the Belize Tourism Board, and spends her free time exploring new areas of the reef.
Speaking to the press, Hunter said, “I wish I could speak the language of the animals on the reef. I wish I knew what they were saying. But what’s important is that you make a connection with wildlife.”
OCEANA was founded in 2001 as a cooperative effort by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Oak Foundation, and the Marisla Foundation in order to achieve measurable change through advocacy and awareness by focusing solely on the importance of protecting oceans. Since 2001, OCEANA has helped protect more than one million square miles of ocean.
The staff and management of the Chabil Mar resort warmly congratulate Madison Edwards and Luz Hunter for being selected as this year’s Ocean Heroes. Chabil Mar is firmly committed to the protection and conservation of the world’s oceans, including the vital role played by Belize’s coral reefs. Chabil Mar offers guests the opportunity to visit the reef and enjoy activities such as snorkeling, sailing, and scuba diving.