Home » Michel Guerrero | Protecting Giant Manta Rays | Recap

Michel Guerrero | Protecting Giant Manta Rays | Recap

Recap of Michel Guerrero Hero Story.

by Your Everyday Heroes

Michel Guerrero is a well-respected marine biologist whose research of giant manta rays has led to a wider breadth of public knowledge about the endangered species. Through his work with El Fundación Megafauna Marina del Ecuador (Marine Megafauna Foundation of Ecuador), Michel seeks to educate both himself and others about his passion: giant manta rays.

Michel Guerrero, a Scientist at Heart

Believe it or not, Michel’s hometown of Quito, Ecuador is approximately 2,850 meters above sea level and six hours away from the ocean. The seeds of his lifelong fascination with oceanic life were first planted by the marine-based documentaries he and his cousins would watch together as children.

However, because Michel’s father was a doctor, he felt familial pressure to enter the medical field. So, after finishing high school, he immediately entered medical school; while he didn’t despise the curriculum, he knew it was not his passion. He learned that a university in Columbia—Jorge Tadeo Lozano University—had a world-renowned marine biology program. 

Michel Guerrero Discovers His Love for Giant Manta Rays

After graduation, Michel briefly moved to Florida, US to earn his master’s degree. Upon returning to his home country, he found a job as a diver at Isla de la Plata, an uninhabited island off the central coast of Ecuador. It was here that he saw his first giant manta ray, an experience that forever changed him.

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He recounted the story: “I was diving near Isla de la Plata. Just before entering the water, a fisherman told me, ‘Don’t go in the water. There’s a shark.’ When I looked down, I saw a giant manta ray. I knew they did no harm , so I just jumped in the water. That first encounter I had really blew my mind.”

What Makes Michel Guerrero an Everyday Hero?

Michel has devoted nearly 30 years to studying the giant manta ray. And while his research has contributed to a greater public knowledge of the creatures’ behaviors, it has also opened lawmakers’ eyes to the giant manta ray’s importance. 

According to NOAA Fisheries, giant manta rays 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.”

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In addition to studying giant manta rays, Michel and his team share their findings with local lawmakers, hoping that they will pass measures to protect the species from poachers. 

Michel’s fight against poaching is heroic: He lives for the protection of docile, harmless creatures whose survival is vital to the functioning of the ecosystem. Because of his and his team members’ work, legislation has been passed that has benefited the species.

What Impact Has Michel Guerrero’s Work Made?

Michel’s accomplishments whilst working for El Fundación Megafauna Marina del Ecuador are innumerable, but he spoke on some of the highlights of his career, saying, “In 2011, we worked together with Galapagos National Park authorities to put together a proposal to the Conservation of Migratory Species [CMS]. Then, that same year, the CMS declared giant manta rays the first manta ray species to be protected under Appendix I in Ecuador.” 

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

According to the CMS website, species under Appendix I are considered endangered, and thereby receive the fullest level of protection under the law.

Michel Guerrero Is a Hero

Michel’s passion for oceanic life is intertwined with his humanitarianism. He studies giant manta rays both out of inherent curiosity and out of love for the world: Because of the manta rays’ irreplaceable role in the ecosystem, their survival is beneficial to humankind as well. 

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