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Marine Biologist | Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioner | Promoting sustainable coral reefs for you and me through Science, Education, Rehabilitation, and Participation.

About Me


Phanor H Montoya-Maya

Marine Biologist, Ph.D.

I believe in a society that is committed to sustainable coral reefs. We can achieve this if we let our inner scientist, explorer, leader and superhero emerge. I provide opportunities for people to do so. I am Marine Biologist (Ph.D. and Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioner specialized in coral reef ecology, connectivity and rehabilitation.

  • Coral reef rehabilitation
    I study science-based solutions that lead to sustainable coral reefs, focusing on coral gardening as a Marine Protected Area management tool.
  • Conservation strategies and tools
    Following a multidisciplinary approach and through networking, communication and research I pursue leading solutions to preserve marine ecosystem services.
  • Capacity building
    For people dependent on natural resources, to develop educational opportunities that empowers them to independently improve their livelihood security.
  • Meaningful Diving
    I practice and promote SCUBA diving with a purpose, diving that goes beyond fun and training, diving that makes a difference.

Educational Value

Universidad de Bogotá Jorge Tadeo Lozano

B.Sc. in Marine Biology

1996 – 2001
Rhodes University

M.Sc. in Ichthyology

2006 - 2009
University of KwaZulu-Natal

Ph.D. in Biology

2009 - 2014

Extended Education

  • Economic Tools for Conservation Strategy Conservation Fund. University of California, Berkeley, CA. July 2018.
  • III International Course on Marine Preservation and Conservation for the Training of Scientific Divers FEDECAS - CMAS. San Andrés Island, Colombia. May 23 - 28 2018.
  • Workshop to Advance the Science and Practice of Coral Restoration NOAA. Fort Lauderdale, USA. November 15 - 17 2016.
  • Introduction to meta-analysis as a restoration monitoring tool. III Congreso Colombiano de Restauración Ecológica, Rionegro – Colombia. October 2016.
  • PADI Instructor Development Course. Arrecifes del Pacifico, Cali – Colombia. March 2016.
  • What´s Your Big Idea. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill via January 2016.
  • SSI Divemaster Instructor Development Course. ScubaXcursion, Scottburgh - South Africa. September 2013.
  • Quantitative PCR for Coral Biologists Workshop 2010. Mote Tropical Research Laboratory. Florida Keys - USA. August 10-20, 2010.
  • Commercial Diver Course. Department of Labour, Durban – South Africa. May 2009.
  • Benthic Marine Invertebrate Workshop. Department of Biodiversity and Conservation Biology – University of the Western Cape, Cape Town – South Africa. January 2007.
  • Statistics for Biologists. INVEMAR, Santa Marta-Colombia. August 2002.
  • Marine Invertebrate Biology Course. Discovery Bay Marine Laboratory, Discovery Bay-Jamaica. July 2002.
  • NAUI Instructor Training Programme. Santa Marta – Colombia. June 2002.


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Nature Viewing
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Scuba Diving
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2016 - CURRENT Corales de Paz

Leading the application of innovative strategies for coral reef protection and restoration. Promoting the active participation of the dive tourism in coral reef conservation. Pioneering large-scale restoration of Colombia´s coral reefs.

2016 - CURRENT Nature Seychelles
Research Associate

I provide support to Nature Seychelles´ research and work on reef restoration and other marine conservation related issues.

2014 - 2015 Nature Seychelles
Technical & Scientific Officer - Reef Rescuers Project

I assisted in the design of the 2nd phase of the Reef Rescuers Project and we raised US250K from USAID, which allowed us to assess the effectiveness of coral transplantation as a tool to enhance coral reef resilience and resistance to bleaching – Proof of Concept. I developed and lectured the 2015 Reef Rescuers Training Program, the first professional development program in large-scale coral reef restoration using the coral gardening concept.

2003 - 2006 Fundación Bucea Colombia
Executive Director

I promoted the support of national and international coral reef conservation strategies by pioneering the first dive volunteering organization in Colombia. I designed, organized, conducted and fundraised for Reef Checks, beach and underwater clean-ups, mooring buoy installations and coral spawning expeditions. I hired, trained, supervised and motivated a small team of administrative and volunteer staff members. I developed collaborations between artisanal fishermen, scientists and recreational divers to launch conservation strategies for the National Natural Tayrona Park, Colombia.

Additional Experience

  • 2016 - present. Onboard Expert/Expedition Staff. Noble Caledonia, UK.
  • 2014 – 2015. Co-Investigator. Implementing the first stage of an Indian Ocean Global Warming Observatory based in Seychelles. USAID/NASA/SERVIR Program and Nature Seychelles, Seychelles.
  • 2014. Coral Specialist. Pristine Seas Expedition to Southern Mozambique, National Geographic Society, USA.
  • 2013. Scientific Diver. Reef Rescuers Project, Nature Seychelles, Republic of Seychelles.
  • 2012 - 2013. Safety Diver/Shark Guide. Blue Wilderness Expeditions, South Africa.
  • 2007 – 2009. House Warden. Botha House, Rhodes University, South Africa.
  • 2006 – 2009. Education Officer. East Coast Fish Watch Project, South African Institute of Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB). Grahamstown, South Africa.
  • 2006 - 2007. Research Assistant. Doctor Phil Heemstra, South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity, South Africa.
  • 2003. Research Diver. Coralina/Ocean Conservancy 2003 Northern Cays Expedition, Archipelago de San Andrés, Providencia y Santa Catalina, Colombia.
  • 2002 – Present. SCUBA Diving Instructor. NAUI, SSI and PADI.
  • 2001 - 2002. Research Assistant. Marine and Costal Research Institute "José Benito Vives de Andreis" - INVEMAR, Colombia.
  • 1996. Volunteer Park Ranger. Gorgona Island and Utria National Natural Parks. Colombia.

My Skills Values

Technical Skills



  • Coral Reef Ecology
  • Seagrass Ecology
  • Estuarine Ecology
  • Invertebrate Zoology
  • Reef connectivity
  • Molecular Biology Techniques
  • Reef Restoration
  • Marine Conservation
  • Biodiversity Assessments
  • Environmental Education
  • Citizen Science
  • Biostatistics
  • Photography
  • Web Development

Language Skills


  • Key Largo, Florida, USA
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