Environmental Initiatives



James Powell is the executive director and co-founder of Sea to Shore Alliance. He is the past Vice President, National and Aquatic Programs at Wildlife Trust. Powell has also coordinated the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Florida Wildlife Research Institute’s marine mammal and sea turtle program. He is an international expert on manatees and has worked on conservation of the species in Florida, the Caribbean, Central America and West Africa for more than 40 years.

He first became involved with manatees in 1967 as a field assistant to Dr. Daniel Hartman, a pioneer in manatee research. When the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service began their long-term manatee research in 1974, Powell was hired to oversee fieldwork. He left USFWS nine years later in order to complete his masters degree in marine resource management. After completing his degree he moved to West Africa and began a research and conservation project on the West African manatee supported by Wildlife Conservation Society. He lived in West Africa for nearly 10 years where he studied both manatees and forest elephants.

After completing his Ph.D. in Zoology, Powell moved to Belize where, with his wife Maureen, he was the director of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Glover’s Reef marine reserve research station located 40 miles off Belize’s coast. While in Belize, and with support from the Wildlife Preservation Trust International, he began an in-depth study of the manatees found in Southern Lagoon that continues today. Fifteen years after leaving the U.S., the Powells returned to Florida where Powell administered the state's research program on marine mammals and sea turtles.

In 2008, Powell founded Sea to Shore Alliance, a partnership of scientists and citizen volunteers with the expertise, passion, and vision to help reverse the degradation of aquatic coastal environments and loss of species diversity. The goal of Sea to Shore Alliance is to better ensure the health and productivity of coastal ecosystems not only for the animal species that live there, but also the humans that depend on them for their health, recreation and livelihoods. Sea to Shore has four full time biologists working on issues ranging from the disappearance of manatee’s warm water sanctuaries to beach illumination hotspots around Florida that reduce the survival rate of hatching sea turtles.


Florida Marine Research Institute

Manatees in Belize

Wildlife Trust



Ph.D., University of Cambridge
1998 - Zoology, England, UK

Masters of Marine Affairs, University of Washington
1986 - Marine Resource Conservation, Seattle, USA

Bachelor of Science, University of Florida
1978 - Wildlife Biology, Gainesville, FL, USA


Sea to Shore Alliance
2008-PRESENT - Executive Director, Founder, Florida, USA

National and Aquatic Programs, Wildlife Trust
2001-2008 - Vice President, England, UK

Florida Marine Research Institute
1998-2001 - Research Administrator II, Endangered and Threatened Species Section, Florida, USA

Glovers Reef Marine Research Station
1994-1998 - Director, Belize

Agency for International Development and The Wildlife Conservation Society (formerly New York Zoological Society).
1989-1994 - Country Coordinator, Cameroon; Director, Cameroon Biodiversity Project. U.S., 


Sirenews, Sirenia International
2007-PRESENT- Co-Editor

Belize Manatee Working Group,
1997-1997- Technical Advisor

Special Survival Commission
Sirenia Specialist Group Member

Special Survival Commission
Elephant Specialist Group Member

Special Survival Commission
Crocodile Specialist Group Member

Manatee Population Status Working Group
1999- Member


2000 - Pew Fellows Program in Marine Conservation

Personal letter of recognition for manatee conservation efforts in the U.S.
1973 - The President of the United States.


International Union of the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN)

Marine Mammal Society


Powell J.A. 2002. Manatees: Natural History and Conservation. Voyageur Press (72 pp)

Jefferson, T.A., B.E. Curry, S. Leatherwood and J.A. Powell. 1997. Dolphins and porpoises of West Africa: A review of records (Cetacea: Delphinidae, Phocoenidae). Mammalia 61(22): 87-108

Rathbun, J.A., J.P.Reid, R.K. Blonde and J.A. Powell. 1995. Reproduction in free-ranging Florida manatees. (T.J. O'Shea, B.B. Ackerman and H.F. Percival eds.), p. 135-156

Lefebre, L. and J.A. Powell. 1990. Effects of grazing by manatees on seagrasses in Hobe Sound, Florida. U.S. Marine Mammal Commission 46

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