Help for Threatened Marine Wildlife

When visiting the Houston Zoo you may see sharks, rays, and sea turtles. The ocean is close to Houston’s heart, with the Gulf of Mexico just down the road, so keeping the ocean healthy by saving marine wildlife in the wild is a high priority. We partner with strong marine wildlife conservation efforts to ensure the protection of the ocean.


2017 Successes:

  • 123 sharks were captured, tagged, and released for long-term monitoring
  • 172 underwater cameras deployed
  • Trained 36 fishers, 80 students and teachers and institutional colleagues across 4 communities in Panama to capture/process invasive lionfish.

MarAlliance is a community-based conservation organization that works with communities to protect ocean wildlife such as sharks, rays and sea turtles. Based in Central America, they employ local fishers to engage in wildlife monitoring and protection efforts and work closely with the government and other conservation organizations.

MarAlliance tagging a turtle to monitor its movements.

MarAlliance works in four countries: Belize, Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras. They conduct the following protection efforts in these countries:

  • Setting underwater cameras to monitor marine wildlife populations.
  • Swimming areas of ocean to survey and count marine wildlife.
  • Place identification tags on marine animals to help keep track of their movements and numbers.
  • Work closely with the government to keep them informed and connected to marine conservation efforts.
  • Educate local children in a conservation program called, “Kids Meet Sharks.” Local children in Belize get to learn about the importance of sharks and their role in keeping the ocean healthy.
  • Monitor the local fishery activities by surveying and communicating with local fishing villages.

Each year, countless sharks and other marine wildlife are killed by the fishing industry either as intentional or unintentional bycatch, or catching marine species that are not the intended target. It is critically important for fisheries to use sustainable fishing methods to avoid as much bycatch as possible.

MarAlliance tagging and measuring a shark in the wild.
Houston Zoo staff on a visit to MarAlliance

How the Houston Zoo Helps:

  • Offering skills training and workshops for MarAlliance staff.
  • Offering assistance with outreach and operation strategies.
  • Funding the purchase of a boat for the monitoring and tagging of sharks, rays, and sea turtles.

How You Can Help:

  • Eat only ocean-friendly seafood. Download the Seafood Watch App to help you choose ocean-friendly seafood on your next grocery shopping trip or dinner out.
  • Reduce plastic use to decrease the likelihood of plastics ending up in our oceans and harming marine animals.
  • Visit the Zoo; a portion of every ticket sold is dedicated towards helping save animals in the wild. Bring a friend, and learn about ocean conservation at our sea lion habitat and the aquarium!
  • Like the Houston Zoo Facebook Page to get updates on how we’re helping animals in the wild.
  • Friend MarAlliance on Facebook to stay informed and share their success!

You can help marine wildlife with a donation of as little as $10 today. All donations go directly to MarAlliance for their conservation work.


Learn More: Videos

The partnership between MarAlliance and the Houston Zoo:

How using less plastic will help to save ocean wildlife: