The Crocodile Research Coalition (CRC) is a Belize-based nonprofit, established in January 2016, that seeks to preserve crocodiles and their environments throughout Central America and the Caribbean to ensure the long-term sustainability of biodiversity in the region. We believe the success of our conservation efforts parallels the involvement and support from local communities, thus we are continuously working alongside with local communities and partner organizations to empower people with the knowledge of co-existence and sustainable practices to ensure the survival of crocodiles and well-being of the communities that live beside them. Our outreach also incorporates working with the local and national governments, utilizing our research to better inform policy decisions regarding wildlife and their habitat (= translational ecology).


Although crocodiles are our flagship species in pursuing regional conservation efforts, the CRC recognizes that the conservation success of crocodiles is not only dependent on direct conservation efforts of the focal species, but also understanding how crocodiles interact with its environment and other wildlife as thriving and long-lasting conservation management is dependent on preserving the integrity of ecological interactions.  Thus, through our research center in southern Belize, we facilitate research projects investigating crocodiles, as well as the surrounding flora and fauna.  


The CRC is currently accruing further funding to build a state-of-the-art research facility on the Placencia Peninsula, however we do have the space and lodging to accommodate interested researchers and small academic groups nationally and internationally who wish to pursue wildlife and conservation research.



MT bio

Dr. Marisa Tellez

Executive Director
“If a woman loves a crocodile, she takes on its character.” — Ancient Egyptian Proverb

At an age when most girls were playing with dolls, Dr. Marisa Tellez was developing knowledge of the world’s top predators as she knew at a young age she wanted to be an advocate and leader in the conservation of the world’s apex predators, particularly crocodiles. Books, television, and local wildlife facilities were the only outlets for her to “experience” crocodiles given she was growing up in the suburbs of Los Angeles, California. After receiving a BA in Cultural Anthropology and a BS in Zoology from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2005, Marisa finally got her hands-on experience with crocodilians at the Eco-station in Culver City, California, and soon after began working at the Los Angeles Zoo. It was working at the zoo that she realized she wanted to head back to school and truly pursue scientific research with crocodilians, particularly investigating their interaction with parasites.

Marisa received a Master’s (2010) and PhD (2014) from the University of California, Los Angeles studying the interaction between parasites and crocodilians, publishing a book and various scientific publications. Her work, knowledge and passion for crocodile conservation was quickly acknowledged by the International Union for Conservation of Nature/Species Survival Commission-Crocodile Specialist Group (CSG), and was soon initiated into the CSG, as well as appointed as the Vice Regional Chair of Latin America for the CSG for her fieldwork in Guatemala, Mexico and Belize which began in 2008.

After receiving a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship through the United States government to research the health and biodiversity of crocodilian habitat in Belize, Marisa soon called Belize home. Observing the difference her research and outreach was making in the local communities, Marisa co-founded the Crocodile Research Coalition (CRC) to further promote crocodile research and community involvement to assist in the conservation of crocodilians and their habitat.



Jonathan Triminio

Research Biologist
Jonathan Triminio was born in Chetumal City, Mexico on April 16th, 1996. He grew up in the small town of Orange Walk “Shuga City” in northern Belize where he became fond of the great outdoors. As a young boy Jonathan enjoyed being outside observing his backyard’s wildlife and appreciating his natural environment. In 2013 he went on to pursue an Associate’s Degree in Natural Resource Management at Muffles Junior College. His relationship with nature grew as he started getting more involved in outdoor activities such as hiking, snorkeling and fishing all over Belize. Jonathan decided to continue his education and attended the University of Belize where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Resource Management in 2019. In the midst of his Bachelor’s career Jonathan developed a genuine interest in crocodilian science and conservation so he based most of his academic work on crocodiles.

As part of his Bachelor’s Program, Jonathan had the great honor to carry out his Internship with the Crocodile Research Coalition which significantly helped him further his career in wildlife conservation. Since then Jonathan has volunteered his time and has been heavily involved in research and outreach with the CRC. As part of his Bachelor’s Program, Jonathan had the great honor to carry out his Internship with the Crocodile Research Coalition in the summer of 2018, which significantly helped him further his career in wildlife conservation. Jonathan continued to volunteer his time with the CRC as a Community Researcher being heavily involved in research and outreach with the CRC until officially joining the CRC team in January 2020.

Darcy Uclez

Education Coordinator
Darcy Uclez was born in Honduras but has been raised in Belize since she was 5 years old. She received her teaching degree, works part-time in an architect/construction business as a draft architect, and is currently enrolled in the Veterinary Technician department at Galen University. Darcy spends a lot of time volunteering in the community and recently became a Gender-Based Violence advocate for the National Women’s Commission. Having a great passion for the protection of wildlife and habitat (coral reefs) in Belize, Darcy has demonstrated her passion by volunteering her time with the Placencia Humane Society, Fragments of Hope, and currently as CRC Education Coordinator.

Jane Champion

Research Coordinator
Jane Champion was born in Massachusetts and settled in Wyoming after college. She spent ten years working in outdoor education, especially wilderness horsepacking. Jane came to Belize in 2010 as a field assistance on a Spider Monkey research project. That led to more primate field work and a degree in Primatology from the University of Calgary. During that time, Belize became her new home. For several years, Jane has been teaching Belize Wildlife Ecology courses to college students studying abroad. Working in the fields of wildlife conservation (regardless of study species) and experiential education has always been a passion of hers. She officially started as CRC’s Research Coordinator in 2020.



Kerri Zuniga

Community Researcher
My name is Kerri Zuniga. I was born on July 15, 1995 in Belize City. I lived in Belize City as a young child and moved to Seine Bight as I grew older. I am proud to call myself Garifuna. From a young age, I always knew I wanted to work outdoors and advocate for our environment. As I got older, I lived that dream. I presently hold an Associate degree in Environmental Science. My ultimate goal is to become a primary school teacher. I plan to use my teaching abilities to teach young children why they should protect and preserve mother earth. A huge Thank you to Marisa and CRC who gave me many opportunities to live my environmental dreams.
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Erica Holding

Community Researcher
My name is Erica Holding and I am thirteen years old. I was born in Belize City and raised in Placencia Belize. My ambition is to work with animals, whether it is with wildlife or domestic animals. I started working with the CRC when I was in standard 6 or grade 8. The CRC help the animals and environment in Belize so much. I enjoy working on research and rehabilitation of wildlife with Dr. Marisa. I plan to continue to work with the CRC for much more time. I believe that if I lived anywhere else, I would not get these opportunities. I never thought that at age 13 I would be doing all of these things with the CRC such as being able to watch Dr. Marisa target train Aemon. I hope to be able to study zoology and animal husbandry/welfare. One day I hope to open my own animal rehab. To learn more about Next Gen Croc, follow the link: https://ipm.644.myftpupload.com/next-gn-croc-fostering-the-next-generation-of-environmental-leaders/



Miriam Boucher

Research Associate
Miriam Boucher is a Canadian native who earned her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Biology at Wingate University, North Carolina, and completed a Master’s degree in Wildlife Management from West Virginia University in 2016, for which she investigated the behavior and acoustics of Crocodylus acutus in Belize. She became involved with crocodylian conservation efforts in Belize in 2014, assisting with ongoing population monitoring, parasitology research, and community engagement projects with Dr. Marisa Tellez. From March 2017 - June 2019, Miriam worked with the CRC as their Research Coordinator, assisting in the initiation of projects in Nicaragua in addition to the CRC satellite tracking program. Although she now works as an Environmental Consultant for a company in Canada, Miriam is continuing to work along with CRC as a colleague and associate with various projects in Belize and Nicaragua.
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Matt Sparks

Research Associate
Matt Sparks is from Wales in the United Kingdom (UK) and obtained a BSc in International Wildlife Biology and an MSc in Conservation and GIS from the University of South Wales. While studying for his Master’s degree he investigated the potential of drones to aid in conservation management plans by mapping habitats. He has over 3 years of experience flying a variety of consumer drones and even holds a commercial license to fly them in the UK. With the CRC, Matt has assisted the CRC in initiating a drone survey project of manatee and crocodile distributions within the Placencia Lagoon and surrounding areas and continues to volunteer his time as a consultant for the drone surveys of the Placencia Lagoon and mentor to the Next Gen Croc program.

Helen Sung

Research Associate
I honestly never thought I would be working with crocodiles, let alone falling in love with working with them. Yet here I am, still working with crocodiles in Belize, but now as a 2019 NSF-GRFP funded Ph.D. student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa working as a research associate and colleague alongside Marisa and the CRC. Although Marisa fostered my start in parasitology, she encouraged me to make my own path and to ask my own questions. Currently, my research goal is to understand hybridization in two species of Central American crocodiles (Crocodylus acutus andC. moreletii) from both a genetic and phenotypic perspective. Using a genome-wide association study, I am investigating genetic markers from physiological stress in hybrid zones, for which I aim to use this research to promote effective conservation/management strategies in Belize alongside with the goals of the CRC, as well as fill in knowledge gaps in crocodilian biology and evolution.

Flavio Morrissiey

Research Associate
Flavio Morrissiey has been working with crocodilian since 1989. He got his start at Gatorland in Orlando, Florida where he worked there for 17 Years. During that time he had developed behavioral management techniques for reptiles, specifically crocodilians. After leaving Gatorland as the General Curator he continued to assist over 30 facilities in Zoo Management. Co-creator of CrocFest, Flavio has volunteered his time for 10 years to bring people together for fundraising in crocodile conservation. CrocFest has raised nearly $500,000 for Crocodile researchers all over the world. He continues to develop techniques to find solutions to conservation problems with on going Human Crocodile Conflicts. Dr. Marisa Tellez has encouraged such ideas and with the Crocodile Research Coalition these ideas and techniques are being put to the test.

Recently the techniques have been applied to American Crocodiles and Morelets Crocodiles in Belize. Using negative reinforcement and aversive stimuli. In the case studies thus far the program seems to work with problematic crocodiles that pose a threat to human populations. At the same time these techniques are designed to teach crocodiles to avoid humans and their dangerous motives as well.

Shawn Heflick

Research Associate
Shawn Heflick has a Bachelor’s degree in Zoology from Wright State University, and a Masters in Conservation Biology/Marine Biology from the Florida Institute of Technology. He has worked around the world on crocodylian conservation, both in situ and in captivity, and is a member of the IUCN/SSC-Crocodile Specialist Group. Shawn is the founder of Crocodile Conservation International, the director of Crocodile Manor and Crocodile University, and founder of CrocFest International.

His field and captive work has allowed him to work with all but a few of the world's crocodylian species. His passion is conservation and educating people about the amazing intelligence of crocodylians, their importance in their associated ecosystems, and how it is possible to coexist with these amazing apex predators. Shawn continues to assist the CRC in husbandry practices and field techniques.

David Hilmy

A former British military officer, but now armed with graduate degrees in Marine Science, Tropical Ecology, and Conservation Biology, and as a PADI Divemaster, David Hilmy is the founder and currently Chief Science Officer for the KEEP, a Belizean non-profit conservation NGO which is based inside the Sittee River Wildlife Reserve in Stann Creek District. The primary focus of the KEEP is translocation, working in collaboration with CRC and Forest Department to rehabilitate and relocate even the largest of crocodiles in one of their two KuTunza Translocation Facilities, and with Belize Bird Rescue and other NGOs releasing endangered parrots back into the wild. Other projects include mangrove restoration (their five-year total to date is 26,750 seeds/seedlings planted); OCS, the orchid and epiphyte conservation and salvage project; Great Curassow, Crested Guan, and Ocellated Turkey breeding programmes with the Belize Zoo; and soon they will be adding small mammal rehabilitation and release projects, in particular with tree porcupines and kinkajous.

Karl Kohman

Research Associate
Karl Kohman is an American wildlife enthusiast who moved to Belize in 2016 and co-founded the Crocodile Research Coalition. He has a BA in Arts and Technology from the University of Texas at Dallas, but his training and career in visual effects didn’t prepare him for doing capture surveys in kayaks. He was a quick student when it came to field work and his problem solving skills, way with words, automotive knowledge, and overall drive were instrumental in the founding and early development of the CRC.

Everett Madsen

Research Associate
Everett Madsen was born and raised in Tampa, Florida where he developed a passion for herpetofauna, particularly crocodilians. Over the years he has had the privilege of working with numerous herpetological taxa on various projects. As an undergraduate at Florida Atlantic University, Everett worked in a lab studying growth rates in loggerhead and green sea turtles. After obtaining his Bachelor’s degree in biology, he spent 6 months in Thailand’s Sakaerat Biosphere Reserve working with king cobras on a spatial ecology project, then returning to Florida where he worked with University of Florida on an invasive species management projects with Burmese pythons and tegu lizards in the greater Everglades ecosystem. Everett joined the CRC in the summer of 2021 as a volunteer and has since helped develop and implement the green iguana population survey project whilst assisting existing crocodilian projects. Currently, Everett is spearheading a project with the CRC studying the microclimates of crocodile nests in Belize while concurrently pursuing his master’s degree with the University of Texas at El Paso studying spotted bush snake systematics in sub-Saharan Africa.


Gatorland Global Crocodile Tooth Surgery in Belize⁉️

Hey y’all! It’s finally done! The Belize video from our last Gatorland Global conservation trip is up and what an wonderful emotional video this one is! We saw and did so much from Jaguars to Tapir, to tooth surgeries and health checks, including Rose from The Belize Zoo to have her first check-up performed by a team of croc experts- this video has it all!!! And you get to see how just by watching this channel you’re helping alligators and crocodiles around the world! I really hope you love it! I cried while I was editing it.

CRC Talks Croc with Adam Talks Wild!

What research and outreach does the CRC conduct? What are some of the biggest threats towards crocs conservation in Belize & internationally? How does the infamous Mesoamerican Slider known as Mad Max keeps CRC staff on their toes? What are some interesting facts about croc anatomy and biology? What challenges has CRC Executive Director Dr. Marisa Tellez faced as a female scientist? Check out this following interview with Adam Talks Wild on Instagram Live.

Part 1

Who is the CRC? What are the biggest threats towards croc conservation? Find out and learn more about croc conservation in Belize, in addition to the rising White Walker crocs found in Northern Belize.

Part 2

Why should we save crocodiles? Are they important to the environment? Should we save crocs to save a piece of our culture? Find out in Part 2 of Adam Talks Wild with CRC.

Part 3

Learn more about the CRC mentor apprenticeship program and other opportunities to work alongside with the CRC, would a jaguar attack people while camping? What are some of the fav experiences of a CRC intern? Learn how Mad Max the Mesoamerican Turtle scares the CRC staff as well as why CRC Croc Ambassadors finally split up after 30 years!

Part 4

What is CRC’s Executive Director background? How did she get into studying parasitology in crocodilians? What are some interesting croc facts about croc anatomy and biology?

Part 5

As we end our interview, CRC gets asked, what's our favorite animal? And how has Dr. Marisa Tellez tried to overcome barriers as a female scientist in a male-dominated field.

US-born Marisa Tellez has always been fascinated by crocodiles, and is a leading researcher on the animals in Belize. She wants to spread the message that crocodiles are not monsters but vulnerable creatures deserving of protection. 

News Link - https://www.dw.com/en/belize-lobbying-for-crocodiles/av-52296143


In this episode, I sit-down with the co-founder of the Crocodile Research Coalition (CRC), Dr. Marisa Tellez. Based in Belize, Marisa founded the CRC to help change the perception of crocodiles in Belize and help conserve them. Marisa talks about the two species of crocodile found in Belize, the American and Morelet’s Crocodile. She talks about her conservation work, close calls, crocodile cannibalism, and why we all need to learn to LOVE crocodiles!

In the PATRON-ONLY after show, she talks about a crocodile found in a toilet AND how to escape a crocodile attack!

Listen Now!