Three cheers for the Reef Festival

Mito Paz of Green Reef accepts a $500 cheque from Dr. Herman Smith.
Three cheers for Green Reef, Ambergris Caye's environmental N.G.O. (Non-governmental organization) for presenting the Reef Festival in honor of the International Year of the Reef and Earth Day.

Hundreds of people, locals and visitors enjoyed the festival at Mar de Tumbo. It was a beautiful day on the beach, just enough breeze to rustle the coconut trees and create a white crest of foam on the reef offshore. All the reef's official protectors were present - Hol Chan Marine Reserve biologists and rangers, Bacalar Chico rangers, and Coastal Zone Management. In addition the private sector reef lovers were actively participating in explaining some of the environmental displays. The busiest displays were undoubtedly the "touch tanks". Two small dories were partially filled with sand and aerated as temporary homes for marine life. Alejandro Paz and Dr. Ken Mattes were the "touch tank" guides. Kids and adults met and touched sea cucumbers, sea slugs, conch of all varieties, hermit crabs, star fish and prickly sea urchins. In their explanation to the visitors, Paz and Mattes explained that the marine species in the dories were all touchable, but when visiting the reef, these are the only creatures to touch. The touch tank creatures were all returned to their reef-side homes following the festival.

A small patient in the turtle rehabilitation display had lots of visitors. The tiny turtle was rescued by Amigos del Mar divers. It was tangled up in a plastic mesh bag in the sea. One of its flippers was torn and damaged. The turtle is recovering nicely and will be released when its flipper is healed.

The "Touch Tank" of marine life (later released)
Coastal Zone Management's (CZM) representative was kept busy fielding questions from future builders. All of San Pedro is in the CZM. Questions ranged from mangrove protection to turtle nesting sites. Bacalar Chico and Hol Chan Marine Reserve displays were outstanding and informative. It was an outstanding opportunity for the community to get first-hand information from marine authorities.

In addition to the comprehensive educational displays, underwater photographs by Joe Miller, and painting by local artists were on display. Colourful tents housed the displays and food booths. Island Academy, LIFE (Lydia's Institute of Fine Education) and ABC Preschool, Leonore Rosado and Mojo's offered food. Music by Wil and the Shells was enjoyed by festival goers, swimmers and sand castle builders.

Green Reef thanks all who assisted and contributed: Sunrise Realty, Caribbean Villas, Royal Palm Inn, Sunbreeze Hotel, Bill Hulsey, Pete's Enterprises, Greg Goza, San Pedro Town Board, San Pedro Sun, San Pedro Distributors, Holiday Hotel, San Pedro Lions, Amigos del Mar Dive Shop, Banyan Bay, Tropica Resort, Dr. Ken Mattes, Hol Chan, Bacalar Chico, Coastal Zone Management, Joe Miller, Amy Brown, Katrina Samuels, Papa Alamilla, Jose Requena, Walter Castillo. Pablo Guerrero, Juan Roberto, Marcos and Cruz. Thanks also to Mojo's, Manelly's, "Brains" Montejo, Rodney Hetzel, Travellers, Jason Forman, Victor L. Bryant and Robin Grossman and Massandje Bamba two volunteer students from the Institute of Central American Development Studies. Grossman and Bamba are working with Green Reef and the Ambergris Museum.

San Pedro Sun

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