Home » Why is Michel Guerrero An Everyday Hero?

Why is Michel Guerrero An Everyday Hero?

Inspiring Story of Michael Guerrero

by Your Everyday Heroes

Michel Guerrero is a marine biologist who specializes in the research and protection of giant manta rays. 

His work with El Fundación Megafauna Marina del Ecuador (Marine Megafauna Foundation of Ecuador) has not only provided the scientific community with new information regarding the behaviors of giant manta rays, but it has also influenced the passing of legislation intended to protect the species. 

Even with his plethora of accomplishments, he still feels that his work has only begun. But how did Michel initially become so enamored by marine biology?

Michel Guerrero Discovers His Passion for Marine Biology

Michel Guerrero grew up in Quito, Ecuador, a city that, believe it or not, is roughly seven hours away from the ocean. 

As a child, what initially stirred his interest in marine biology were the television shows he would watch with his cousins: Specifically, the sci-fi series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and the docu-series The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau made immeasurable impacts on him. 

Because Michel’s father was a doctor, he felt familial pressure to attend medical school after graduating high school. While he was in no way apathetic towards the curriculum, medicine was not his passion. 

So after a year in medical school, he took a major risk; he transferred to a university in Columbia—Jorge Tadeo Lozano University—to major in marine biology.

Michel Guerrero 5

After studying for six years, Michel finally earned a degree in marine biology.

Michel Sees His First Giant Manta Ray

After completing his education, Michel was working as a diver at Isla de la Plata, a wildlife-rich island off the coast of Ecuador. Here, he saw a giant manta ray for the first time, an experience that completely altered the trajectory of his life.

Originally thinking that a shadowy figure underneath the water was a shark, Michel was obviously hesitant to dive in. However, upon realizing that it was actually a giant manta ray, a creature he knew to be docile, he took a plunge.

Michel Guerrero 27

His first encounter with a manta ray was a mind-altering experience. Because they have the biggest brain-to-body ratio of all fish, he believes that manta rays are capable of forming deeper connections with humans than those which are possible by other aquatic species.

“We made real eye contact. It was something that changed my life. It was weird because I felt that inside it wasn’t just an animal… It looked like an alien.”

In What Way Is Michel Guerrero an Everyday Hero?

Michel does not only study the giant manta ray to fulfill his own curiosity. He wishes to educate the public on the importance of the creature, thereby influencing lawmakers to pass legislation that protects the species.

Giant manta rays are unfortunately poached for their gill rakers, which are falsely thought to boost the immune system when used as an ingredient in soup. The biggest concern in regard to the poaching of giant manta rays is the fact that doing so disrupts the ecosystem. 

Michel Guerrero 30

According to NOAA Fisheries, the species are “crucial to the ecosystem. Manta rays control plankton abundance and diversity and regulate nutrient cycling. Their feeding and diving behavior creates a valuable ecological connection between the surface ocean and the deep sea.”

Put most simply, the hunting of giant manta rays has a negative impact on the lives of humans.

What Impact Has Michel Guerrero Made?

Most of Michel’s research of giant manta rays utilizes satellite tags; he and his team place tracking devices on manta ray populations to attain a clearer understanding of their movements. Michel and his team’s work has given the scientific community a greater knowledge of the migration patterns of the species. 

Additionally, partly because of information he and his team have submitted to lawmakers, giant manta rays are now protected under Appendix I in Ecuador, meaning that they are officially considered an endangered species. Therefore, the poaching of them is punishable by law.

Michel Guerrero on the Struggle of Financing a Non-Profit Organization

As is the case with most who operate non-profit organizations, Michel and his teammates struggle to find funding. While they would obviously love for an affluent sponsor to provide grants, they have found other avenues to stay afloat. 

Michel Guerrero 39

Aside from local private companies acting as sponsors, in 2017, El Fundación Megafauna Marina del Ecuador received money and equipment from the WWF (World Wildlife Fund). Most recently, even National Geographic took notice of the organization, providing them with a huge grant.

Still, the organization’s aspirations exceed the limits set forth by its current income. For this reason, Michel continues to hold out hope for larger and more consistent sponsors.

Michel Guerrero Is a Hero

Michel’s love for the ocean parallels his love for humankind. His studies of the giant manta ray have benefited both the survival of the species, as well as the wellbeing of humankind, as the creatures are essential to our ecosystem. 

Did you miss Antonio Polo’s Featured Showcase?

Antonio Polo Thumbnail
Click HERE to watch Antonio Polo’s feature documentary “A Mission To Build Salinas, Ecuador”

He has devoted the last 30 years of his life to seeing our world become a better place. He is an everyday hero.

Michel Guerrero Resources

Learn more about Michel Guerrero’s work with giant manta rays. 

Visit the Proyecto Mantas Ecuador website.  

Check out El Fundación Megafauna Marina del Ecuador’s Facebook page. 

Keep up with Michel’s dives on his Instagram page.  

Related Videos

Leave a Comment

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More