Oceana has celebrated Ocean Hero Awards since 2009 as a way to recognize and honor leaders in ocean conservation, education, and advocacy from around the world. On Saturday, September 26th, at a ceremony held in Caye Caulker, Oceana recognized two Belizeans for their selfless commitment to Belize’s marine environment. We are pleased to declare Biologist Miguel Alamilla and Captain Romauldo Badillo as the 2015 Ocean Heroes.
Since 1997, Miguel Alamilla has been managing one of Belize’s most popular marine protected areas, the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. As a part of his responsibilities, Miguel has also been leading a monitoring program in order to protect the highly vulnerable marine turtles that live and nest on the shores of Ambergris Caye. Officially declared a reserve in 1987, in February 2015, Hol Chan was expanded, largely in part from Miguel’s lobbying efforts, from 21 square kilometers to include more than 131 square miles of reef, shoals, sea, lagoon and wetlands. Like the charismatic creatures he works to protect, Alamilla has been silently toiling behind the scenes in dedicated service to conservation and country. Today, the Hol Chan Marine Reserve is recognized internationally for its efforts in management, education and advocacy.
Captain Romi Badillo
There are no words that can express the profound sense of loss felt by the passing of Captain Romauldo Badillo. Romi’s friendship, leadership and seamanship has impacted numerous Belizeans. As we organized this tribute, so many people had a different story to tell; everyone wanting to help saying, “This is the least I can do for Romi.” His time with us was cut short but his list of accomplishments is long…and there is no way anyone could do proper justice to them all. He gave so much of himself to Belize via the Fisheries Department; the tourism industry; support for scientific research; and in channel marking and navigation. As a nation, we must live with the regret that we never got the chance to say a proper “Thank you!” Romi deserves so much more than this award but we hope that Anna, Romito, Roanne, Chloe and the entire Badillo family will accept this Ocean Hero award as a heartfelt gesture of gratitude for everything your husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle did for Belize and her marine resources.
Past Belizean Ocean Heroes include marine biologists Dr. Melanie McField and Lisa Carne as well as manatee protectors Lionel “Chocolate” Heredia and Jamal Galves.