Dr. James “Buddy” Powell
QUALIFICATION Pew Fellow in Marine Science
For more than 40 years, Dr. James “Buddy” Powell has worked to conserve manatees and other endangered species around the world through science and education. With an integrated approach to unlock solutions for conservation issues, his efforts have resulted in coastal protected areas in Florida, West Africa, Central America and Cuba.
As native Floridian in the 1970s, Buddy’s work began with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as a biologist and manatee specialist. In 1986, he moved to West Africa where he studied manatees and forest elephants for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). After a cultural adjustment and gaining experience in managing people and changing human behavior, he was pivotal in establishing several coastal protected areas. He moved to Belize in the 1990s to manage WCS’s Glover’s Reef Marine Research Station. Upon his return to Florida, Buddy administered the state’s research program on marine mammals and sea turtles for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. In 2001, he became a Vice President at Wildlife Trust where he oversaw the Aquatic and National Divisions.
In 2008, Dr. Powell co-founded Sea to Shore Alliance. The organization was created to improve the health and productivity of coastal environments for the endangered species and human livelihoods that depend on them through research, education and conservation. Buddy joined CMA as VP of Research & Conservation when Sea to Shore Alliance merged with Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
Dr. Powell received his BSc. in Wildlife Biology from the University of Florida, his Masters in Marine Affairs from the University of Washington, and his PhD in Zoology from the University of Cambridge in England. He was the recipient of the prestigious Pew Award in Marine Conservation in 2000, has been featured on “Champions of the Wild” and National Geographic’s “Wild Chronicles” documentaries, and has been honored with multiple awards and certificates. Dr. Powell has authored two books, numerous scientific publications and popular articles.
Paul’s career started 40 years ago when he volunteered to monitor sea turtles and coordinate the first beach cleanups at his local surf break. This passion for the ocean and coastal ecosystems led to a fulfilling career managing the County’s coastal resources. Paul worked at the Palm Beach County Department of Environmental Resources Management (ERM) for 25 years, and eventually retired in 2013 as the Director of the Environmental Restoration Division. His area of expertise includes nearly 40 years in coastal management and imperiled species conservation.
He was involved in sea turtle conservation for 33 years and manatee conservation for 25 years including developing and implementing the PBC Manatee Protection Plan. These programs required close coordination with property owners, developers and municipal, county, state, and federal agencies to produce effective conservation measures. He and his staff were responsible for habitat restoration projects as well as ecosystem and species management initiatives related to reefs, beaches, dunes, mangroves, seagrass and estuarine communities of Palm Beach County. Since retiring he has been volunteering for a number of environmental organizations.
After retirement, his career came full circle back to where it started – spending time on the beach fighting the marine debris problem. For the past five years, Paul has managed the Healthy Habitats and Ocean marine debris environmental education program. The program brings a mobile classroom to schools and special events. The program also coordinates regular beach cleanups and collaborates with other volunteer groups to reduce the impacts of marine debris. During his free time, you’ll still find him riding the waves.
Jorge A. Angulo-Valdés
Associate Research Scientist
LOCATION USA / CUBA
Dr. Angulo-Valdes holds double appointments between a Cuban and American institution; he’s a member of the Scientific Council at the Center for Marine Research at the University of Havana and a visiting assistant professor at Eckerd College in Florida. Prior to that, he served as the the Director of the Center for Marine Research at the University of Havana from 2009-2014.
Dr. Angulo-Valdés graduated from the University of Havana in 1995 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology, then obtained a Master’s Degree in Marine Management and a PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies from Dalhousie University, Canada.
Dr. Angulo-Valdes has made a significant contribution to expand and strength the collaboration between Cuban and American institutions. He has organized several successful exchange initiatives between the two countries. His research interest include recreational fisheries, management effectiveness of marine protected areas, community-based research, natural resources conservation and bio economics. He has published over 40 papers and several book chapters dealing with his research areas. Dr Angulo-Valdes has led several research projects funded by international agencies such as the International Development Research Institute, Canada; the Whitley Fund for Nature, England; Sea to Shore Alliance, USA; Environmental Defense Fund, USA. Dr Angulo-Valdes is working with Bonefish and Tarpon Trust (BTT) to implement a Cuba program to contribute to regional efforts to preserve bonefish, tarpon, permits and their habitats.
Dr. Anmari Alvarez Aleman
Caribbean Research Director
LOCATION USA / CUBA
Dr. Anmari Alvarez Aleman has been working with manatees, dolphins and the coastal communities that interact with these species for more than 15 years. Her passion for marine mammals and conservation began as a youth growing up in Cuba leading her to pursue academic studies and a career in this field as an adult.
She received her Bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Havana, Cuba, in 2006. After completing that degree, she worked with the Center for Marine Research at the University of Havana, with a focus on the conservation of the Antillean manatee. In 2010, she completed her master’s degree in Integrated Management of Coastal Zones.
In 2015 she was granted an assistantship position at the University of Florida and became the first Cuban student to hold this opportunity in more than 50 years. She began to pursue a doctorate in Interdisciplinary Ecology with a concentration on Wildlife Ecology and Conservation. The core of her research was population genetics and the conservation of the West Indian manatee with a focus on Cuba. After four years of research and studies, and the birth of a baby boy, she graduated in December 2019.
Her research has generated scientific knowledge to support governmental actions to benefit species and habitats on both local and regional levels. She has published her findings in scientific journals and presented at several workshops and international conferences.
She often collaborates with the scientific group of the Manatee Monitoring Program of the National System of Protected Areas, Cuba. She is the Meso-America Regional Co-Chair of the Sirenia Specialist Group, IUCN http://locus39.net/iucnssg/?page_id=75.
As the Caribbean Program Director at Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute, she designs, implements, and oversees research and conservation projects of marine megafauna and their habitats in the Caribbean region. Some of her current research includes understanding the connection between the Cuban and Florida manatee population and generating knowledge about the importance of Marine Protected Areas for manatee conservation in the Caribbean.
-Alvarez-Alemán, A. Angulo-Valdés, J. Powell, J. García, E. Taylor, C.K. 2016. Antillean manatee occurrence in a marine protected area, Isla de la Juventud, Cuba. DOI: 10.1017/S0030605315001143.
-Alvarez-Alemán, A. García, E. Forneiro Martin-Viana, Y. Hernández González, Z. Escalona Domenech, R. Hurtado, A. Powell, J. Jacoby, CA, Frazer, TK. 2018. Status and conservation of manatees in Cuba: historical observations and recent insights. Bulletin of Marine Sciences. https://doi.org/10.5343/bms.2016.1132.
-Alvarez-Alemán, A., Austin, JD. Jacoby, CA. TK. Frazer. 2018. Cuban Connection: Regional Role for Florida’s Manatees. Frontiers in Marine Science. 5 (294). doi: 10.3389/fmars.2018.00294.
Nicole Bartlett is a Research Assistant for CMA Research Institute, conducting photo identification, behavioral observations, and monitoring of tagged animals from South Florida to South Carolina. This sometimes involves sailing a powerboat across a no-motor zone with a bimini, playing “Gator or Log” with locals, or finding wayward boat ramps via Google Earth.
Nicole first started working with Sea to Shore in 2013 carrying out onsite survey and photo identification. Duties expanded from there to include assisting with manatee captures and rescues, vegetation surveys, temperature monitoring, animal verification, data entry, and drawing manatee cartoons for her favorite vendor (thanks Sonotronics!).
Prior to working for CMA Research Institute, you were likely to find Nicole canoeing various Florida waterways with Outward Bound, or hiking in Texas. Originally from Arkansas, Nicole saw her first manatee while traveling through Mosquito Lagoon. Nicole spends her free time growing various hot peppers, riding motorcycles, and catering to the whims of the two cats and dog who insist she spoil them relentlessly.
Senior Research Scientist
Monica has over twenty-five years of research experience studying manatee behavior and habitat use. She has worked for state, non-profit or private research organizations and has assisted organizations in developing manatee research projects. Her knowledge and skills have helped provide valuable input to state and federal agencies when developing or improving manatee habitat protection measures.
As a native Floridian always in or near the water, Monica grew up fascinated with how marine mammals interacted and learned from each other. Fresh out of college, Monica focused on marine mammal cognitive and adaptive abilities. She later worked on projects focusing on oyster larvae development, Florida game-fish stock enhancement, fish tag shedding/retention and fish population monitoring programs.
Monica found her passion when she first worked on a wild Florida manatee tagging project in the early 1990s. She found her niche in trying to understand how manatees learn and make choices in their day-to-day lives. She has focused her research on manatee behavior related to habitat selection. Currently research efforts spotlight documenting manatee use of springs along the St Johns River which do not have manatee protection plans and at industrial sites to determine the level of manatee site attraction during winter.
Monica is also working with partners to determine manatee fringe habitat use within Alabama and Georgia while also conducting photo identification of encountered manatees. She has expanded her research to also include habitat health and enhancement under different management strategies. Healthy spring systems are vital for manatee survival and are directly associated with habitat selection. Monica has more than seven years of professional animal training experience with dolphins, birds, and terrestrial animals, along with 20 additional years of personal experience training dogs for competitive obedience, agility or herding competitions. Enjoying animal behavior is not just a job for her but a way of life.
Belize Program Coordinator
A native of Belize, Jamal Galves has been passionate about protecting wildlife since childhood. From the age of 12, he knew he wanted to work with animals – specifically manatees.
In 1998, Jamal met Executive Director Dr. James “Buddy” Powell and USGS scientist Robert Bonde while participating in his first manatee health assessment. Working with these two renowned scientists influenced Jamal enormously; he was immediately hooked and soon found himself taking every opportunity to work with manatees. While most of his high school classmates were spending their weekends and holidays relaxing, Jamal was working with scientists, monitoring and feeding two manatees in their final stages of rehabilitation. He eventually helped with the tracking of those two manatees after their release.
After finishing high school, Jamal volunteered to work with Nicole Auil Gomez, an associate with Sea to Shore Alliance, now CMA Research Institute, and was eventually given a full-time position as coordinator of the manatee project., continuing his dream of protecting wildlife. Jamal’s responsibilities include addressing and responding to any manatee related incidents in the entire country of Belize; capturing, tagging, and tracking manatees; collecting data; rescue, release and monitoring of rehabilitated manatees in the wild; and educational outreach and awareness.
Jamal recently was awarded the prestigious Ocean Hero Award by Oceana Belize for his dedicated, passionate and heroic work with the endangered manatee. He has also been presented with the Belize National Hero Award (Meritorious Award” from the Belize Government for his conservation contribution to the country. He have been named a National Geographic Explorer and Natgeo PhotoArk Edge Fellow. “These animals are in trouble and need our help – I have dedicated my life to helping this species,” he said upon accepting the award.
In 2018 Jennifer joined Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute transitioning from rehab to post release monitoring of manatees once they have been released as a part of the Manatee Rehabilitation Partnership.
As a Florida native, Jennifer has always had an interest in protecting the wildlife and places of her home. In 2002 she started volunteering with the manatee hospital at Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park. She earned a permanent position in the Florida Native Wildlife Department and David A Straz Jr, Manatee Hospital, working to rehabilitate sick, injured and orphaned manatees.
When not tracking manatees, Jennifer is a distance runner, running races to benefit her favorite nonprofit organizations. She also spends her time backpacking, kayaking and hiking with her husband.
Amanda is a part of the Manatee Rehabilitation Partnership and is responsible for tracking young, naïve manatees (mainly on the East Coast of Florida) who have been released into the wild after rehabilitation. In order to ensure released manatees are integrating into the wild population, she monitors their behavior, movements, and body condition and coordinates the rescue of any naïve manatee that fails to succeed in the wild.
She previously served in the US Navy and simultaneously began working on her Biology degree. She later worked as a vet tech, a wildlife photographer, and a Hawaiian Monk Seal biologist where she gained an appreciation for field work and goofy marine mammals. She enjoys yoga, freediving, lengthy beach excursions, various creative projects, and pampering her pups, Fin and Coconut.
North Atlantic Right Whale Research
Research Scientist, South Carolina Team
Natasha grew up in New Hampshire surrounded by forests, lakes, and quick access to the ocean that fostered a love of the marine ecosystem early on. She received her BS in Biology and since then has worked on long-term research projects with leatherback sea turtles, humpback whales, and most recently worked with The Center for Coastal Studies researching the North Atlantic right whale in Cape Cod Bay. She has been fascinated by cetaceans for as long as she can remember, and is excited to be a part of the South Carolina survey team for this year’s North Atlantic right whale migration and calving season. When not out on the water looking for whales, Natasha can usually be found exploring her surrounding area with her furry side-kick Dusky, a mini Australian shepherd mix.
Research Scientist, North Carolina Team
Originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, Carley Metcalf gained a B.S. in Marine Science and a certification in sustainability from Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina. Carley’s career in marine mammal science began at the International Fund for Animal Welfare in Yarmouthport, Massachusetts as an intern with the Marine Mammal Rescue and Research Team. During her time in the Atlantic Northeast, she was able to contribute to the data collection effort on basking shark diving habits, North Atlantic right whale feeding ecology, and Bay of Fundy water chemistry analysis at the Grand Manan Whale and Seabird Research Station. Carley continued on to work with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to conserve and collect data on manatees in the East Central population on Florida’s Atlantic Coast. She currently works as a protected species observer in the mid to southern Atlantic region. Carley Metcalf is elated to be part of CMA Research Institute’s North Carolina aerial observer team for the 2021-2022 field season.
Research Scientist, South Carolina Team
Meghan Bradley is a Right Whale Aerial Observer for CMA Research Institute. From a very young age, she has had a love for the underwater world. This passion persisted during the completion of a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology at Merrimack College, Andover, MA. During this time, she interned as a Marine Mammal Researcher with Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation in Portsmouth, NH. Further related experiences include internships at New England Aquarium in Boston, MA, with the Penguin Colony and Marine Mammal Education and Research team. Meghan has also recently completed a Master’s Degree in Marine Mammal Science at the University of St Andrews, Scotland.
In the midst of these experiences, Meghan has spent several summers working as a deckhand for Granite State Whale Watch in Rye, NH. She particularly enjoys working on M/V Uncle Oscar, an Isles of Shoals ferry and tour boat. After spending much time viewing a variety of whale species from vessels in the Gulf of Maine, Meghan is thrilled to take flight with CMARI and “migrate” with the whales.
Research Scientist, South Carolina Team
Shelby is joining CMARI for the 2021-2022 field season as the South Carolina Team Lead for North Atlantic Right Whale aerial monitoring. She hails from small-town Wisconsin and got her Master’s in marine mammal science from the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, and her Bachelor’s in marine biology from the University of New England in Maine. In the off-season, she is a marine mammal visual and acoustic observer along the East Coast of the United States and Canada, informing industry vessels on how to operate safely around marine life. Shelby has also participated in a variety of other fun monitoring and research projects, including Hawaiian monk seals in the remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, bottlenose dolphins in Galveston Bay, Texas, manatee in St. Petersburg, Florida, gray whales in the Puget Sound, Washington, humpback whales in Puerto Rico, and killer whales in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska.
Shelby has spent the last six years researching body and fin proportions of Hawaiian dolphins to identify ways of telling males and females of different species apart, and examine health conditions before and after entanglement. Her research interests revolve around physiological drivers of behavior, and there’s a special place in her heart for all things polar ecology. When not looking for marine life, Shelby enjoys nature photography, spinning yarn, crocheting, and dog sledding with her two malamutes.
Research Scientist, North Carolina Team
Cathryn will be returning to CMARI’s North Atlantic right whale team in North Carolina for the 2021-2022 field season. Growing up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan surrounded by the Great Lakes, she has always had a love for water and conserving the species who inhabit it. Cathryn holds a B.A. in biology from Lawrence University and an M.Sc. in marine science from Hawaii Pacific University. Her research and field experience has been focused primarily on marine megafauna ecology, which has included a number of different species – from sea birds to cetaceans to sea turtles. During her time in undergrad, Cathryn worked with a team from Oregon State University’s GEMM Lab studying gray whale foraging ecology, her first experience with large baleen whale research. For her master’s, she did a project on PFAS contaminants found in the plasma and eggs of hawksbill and green sea turtles from across the North Pacific for the Center for Marine Debris Research. During that time, she also interned for the UH Marine Mammal Research Program, where she processed hundreds of aerial drone images of southern right whales and gray whales to provide morphometric data for body condition analyses. Cathryn joined the CMARI team in 2020 and is ecstatic to play a role in protecting North Atlantic right whales.
In her free time, Cathryn enjoys spending time with loved ones and beloved pets, reading, playing music, biking, sailing, skiing, and pretty much anything outdoors!
Research Scientist, North Carolina Team
Christi Bubac is the team lead for CMARI’s North Atlantic right whale aerial team based in North Carolina.
She received her BSc from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, her MSc in Integrative Genomics from Black Hills State University, and is a PhD candidate in Ecology at the University of Alberta. Since 2015, Christi has been involved in marine mammal research that has included investigating the genetic basis of animal personality and reproductive performance in gray seals of Sable Island (Nova Scotia), and has further examined the relationship between prey abundance and behavior in an endangered population of orcas. In addition to her marine mammal work, Christi has gained field, research, and management experience working with various wildlife species including marine turtles, gray wolves, and black rhinoceroses.
Drawn to CMA in 2020 for their work in protecting habitats and advocating for wildlife conservation, Christi worked with the right whale aerial crew in South Carolina. She is eager to rejoin the CMARI team to continue monitoring and collecting data on the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale. When not in the field or behind her computer, Christi’s other interests include mountain biking, drinking copious amounts of coffee, and hiking with her trusty sidekick, a husky-shepherd mix.
Research Scientist, Georgia Team
Melanie White is the CMARI project manager for the North Atlantic right whale conservation program based on Saint Simons Island, Georgia. Between the months of December and March, Melanie coordinates and participates in survey flights off the coast of Georgia and northeast Florida on the only known calving ground for this critically endangered species. Melanie has been flying North Atlantic right whale surveys since December 2005 and has been based in Florida, South Carolina and Georgia. She works as an observer, survey coordinator and field supervisor monitoring the location, individual identification and real-time vessel mitigation for right whales.
Melanie grew up in upstate New York surrounded by lakes and forests, so her love for the ocean only surfaced thanks to a family trip to Acadia National Park, Maine. The variety of marine creatures found in countless tide pools captivated her and triggered the start of her fascination to learn about the world below the waterline of the vast ocean.
Melanie has spent time on both coasts of the United States studying large whales. She has monitored the gray whale population in British Columbia, Canada and now spends her time in both the northern and southern sectors of the eastern seaboard. During the summer Melanie can be found on the whale watching boat, M/V Granite State, in Rye, New Hampshire where she works as a naturalist and research associate with the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation. Melanie then heads south in the winter where she works as the project manager for CMA Research Institute during the annual right whale calving season.
When she is not in the field searching for whales, Melanie tends to gravitate to the environment surrounding her. She enjoys hiking, aquatic birding, searching for treasures on the beach and nature photography.
Research Scientist, Georgia Team
David started as a Right Whale Aerial Observer with CMA Research Institute in 2020, and is eager to return. From December through March, David is based on Saint Simons Island, Georgia to participate in survey flights to monitor the critically endangered North Atlantic Right Whale. The waters off the coasts of Georgia and the Atlantic coast of Florida are the right whales’ only known calving grounds, and these survey flights help assess the distribution, health and safety of the whales and their young. This is crucial for giving them a fighting chance to survive as a species.
Born and raised on the Jersey Shore, David spent his entire childhood on the beach and in the ocean. It had a huge impact on him, and made him want to study the marine environment. He left his home state to study Marine Affairs at the University of Rhode Island, and he found himself settling in Providence, Rhode Island after college.
Previously, David has been a Fisheries Observer, where he collected data on fish stock assessments and conducted biological sampling all across the North Atlantic. He also spent time as a Protected Species Observer, recording information on marine mammals and sea turtles on offshore wind farm projects for weeks at a time. Currently, he can be found as a naturalist and data contributor in Boston, Massachusetts for the New England Aquarium Whale Watch. Once the whale watch season ends, he heads down to Georgia to take part in our aerial survey flights.
When not on the water or in the air, he can usually be found sketching, hiking and reading, preferably outside!
Research Scientist, Georgia Team
Marcy has been with Georgia’s Right Whale Aerial survey team since 2014. Previously, she has flown off Cape Cod with NEFSC Protected Species Branch in Woods Hole, MA and as part of the survey team for the Deepwater Horizon Oil spill.
She was born and raised in SE Georgia, where trips to the nearby beaches gave her desire to work in the field of Marine Biology. She graduated from Florida Institute of Technology (Florida Tech) with Bachelors in Marine Biology and Ecology.
When not working with Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute, she continues working as a marine mammal observer and protected species observer in the Western Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and even in the Arctic’s Chukchi Sea in Alaska.
Ashley Millan Ambert
Research Scientist, Georgia Team
Ashley Millan Ambert is a Right Whale Aerial Observer for CMA Research Institute. Ashley first started working with CMARI as an aerial observer for the North Atlantic right whale conservation program based on Saint Simons Island, Georgia in 2019. Between the months of December and March, she participates in survey flights on right whale calving grounds off the Southeastern United States to monitor the distribution, individual identification, and vessel collision mitigation for the species.
Additionally, she has performed data curation and maintenance of the CMA Dolphin Photo-ID Research Program databases to assemble a fin catalog, as well as to establish population estimates, site fidelity, habitat use, and other parameters of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins in Clearwater Harbor and the adjacent areas along the central west coast of Florida.
Ashley received her BSc. in Marine Biology from the Florida Institute of Technology in 2012. Prior to working for CMA, she was the marine mammal stranding team lead for Volusia County’s Manatee Protection Program, where she worked alongside other state and non-profit institutions to coordinate and respond to strandings. She also worked as a research assistant at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies, where she conducted boat-based photo-ID research of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins in the Mississippi Sound and the northern Gulf of Mexico.
Originally from Puerto Rico, Ashley has always been passionate about marine conservation. She looks forward to continuing to contribute to marine mammal research and conservation efforts in the future.