CROCODILE RESEARCH COALITION
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.
MEET THE TEAM
Dr. Marissa Tellez
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 and her husband created the Crocodile Research Coalition (CRC) to further promote crocodile research and community involvement to assist in the conservation of crocodilians and their habitat.
After only a year, his wife Marisa proposed that they move to Belize for at least a year for her work. In no time at all, they sold off their stuff, packed up what was left and moved to the Jewel of the Caribbean.
Over the next 6 months, working as a research assistant for his wife, Karl fell in love with the plethora of wildlife surrounding him and the crocodilians that they were researching. Seeing the positive difference he and his wife were already making among the local communities through their outreach and research, he and his wife Marisa decided to start the Crocodile Research Coalition, in hopes of learning more about the crocodiles and their environment, while educating locals and tourists alike about these incredible creatures and their importance to the surrounding environment.
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.
Preston is part of the CRC's Next Gen Croc program that mentors students who have a passion for science and conservation. To learn more about Next Gen Croc, follow the link: https://crocodileresearchcoalition.org/next-gn-croc-fostering-the-next-generation-of-environmental-leaders/
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.
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.
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.