Marine Protected Areas are an important management tool that can be used to not only preserve rich marine habitats, but also to protect local economies. Established in 1996, Belize's South Water Caye Marine Reserve functions to protect the rich habitats and biodiversity of the Belizean Barrier Reef and the researchers at the Smithsonian Institution's Carrie Bow Cay field station have been studying the changes in the marine life since the establishment of this reserve. The knowledge gained from this research could help enhance our understanding of marine ecosystems globally and aid management in making more successful marine protected areas.