Humpback whales

Idelisa Bonnelly is a marine biologist, conservationist, and lecturer, who encourages us to safeguard the ocean and its mysteries.

Bonnelly’s love for the ocean started while growing up, driven by great curiosity towards unravelling the great unknown. Since the Dominican universities did not offer studies in marine biology, she graduated in New York and, after working in the city aquarium, she returned to Dominican Republic.

In the 1960s, Bonnelly founded the first high education program for marine biology in the Dominican Republic, the Institute of Marine Biology (later known as Marine Biology Research Center, CIBIMA). Eight years later, she founded the National Academy of Sciences in the Dominican Republic, and later on, the School of Biology at the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo was created.

Bonnelly extensively work towards enabling high education on marine biology and to preserve the oceans and their resources.

Her work to protect the humpback whales led to the declaration of the first protective zone for these beautiful animals in 1986 (Santuario de los Bancos de Plata y Navidad). Additionally, in her search to safeguard the cost and its ecosystem, she founded the Dominican Foundation of Marine Studies (FUNDEMAR).

Among other awards, Idelisa Bonnelly de Calventi received the United Nations Environment Program’s Global 500 Hall of Fame in 1988, the UNESCO Madame Curie Medal in 2009, and she was awarded the Orden al Mérito de Duarte, Sánchez y Mella. Moreover, in 2016, the National Authority for Marine Affairs (ANAMAR) in Dominican Republican named in her honour a marine strait or channel through which whales regularly pass to access the Dominican waters.

An example to us all, and an outstanding figure from Latin America.

Written by: Enriqueta Vallejo-Yagüe.