Ilena Zanella is a marine biologist and a Master of Science in Wildlife Management and Conservation from Institute for Wildlife Conservation and Management (ICONVIS), Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica. She is the co-founder and the executive director of Misión Tiburón, an NGO established in 2009 with the goal to promote the research, management and conservation of sharks and marine life. Misión Tiburón carries out educational activities for young people to raise awareness about ocean conservation, workshops with fishers to promote sustainable fishing practices, and training with governmental institutions to improve control and protection programs. In 2018, Ilena and her partner, Andres Lopez, led a shark conservation project in Golfo Dulce. The project resulted in the creation of the first marine sanctuary in Costa Rica dedicated to sharks, the Scalloped Hammerhead Shark Sanctuary Golfo Dulce. In 2019, Ilena was nominated as Blue Spot Champion by the international organisation Mission Blue and awarded the Whitley Award from Her Royal Highness Princess Anne. In 2022, Mision Tiburon won the St Andrews Prize for the Environment in recognition of their inclusive conservation model.