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Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 57,756
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline

...a proprietary proposal from linkedin

Belize has the largest barrier reef in the western hemisphere – a marine area rich in biodiversity, and a strong attraction for tourists from around the world. Belize’s rainforests also support amazing creatures and are an exciting destination for Belizeans and visitors.

For fifty years Belize has been establishing protected areas. The designation of these protected areas has made Belize one of the most environmentally advanced countries in the world, with extensive areas of the national territory now designated as protected areas.

A conservation fee of BZ $7.50 paid by visitors to Belize upon their departure and a 20% commission from cruise ship passenger fees are administered by the Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT.)

PACT has grant money available for Environmental Education and Awareness of these protected areas. In Australia there is the Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef Aquarium which functions as the National Education Centre for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

The Wild Center is a museum which interprets the Adirondacks – a six million acre wilderness area in New York. This interpretive center is a combination of museum, aquarium, and science center.

The proposal is to develop a Coral Reef Interpretive Center to educate both tourists and native Belizeans about the amazing diversity of life that is found here, modeled upon similar institutions.

The Wild Center was established on a 31 acre campus which was donated by the local school district. The 51,000 square foot building cost US $30 Million to construct and attracts 80,000 visitors annually.

The Wild Center was the first LEED certified museum in New York and is a model for sustainable design.

The visitor experience starts in a panoramic theater which features stunning photography of the “Wild Adirondacks.” The exhibit hall takes visitors on a virtual trek uphill from the adjacent marsh on the Raquette River to the top of one of the local mountains. Guests encounter live trout, frogs, snakes, turtles and otters along their journey.

The National Aquarium of Belize experience could start with a 50 foot, 360 degree, digital dome theater which would virtually transport passengers to many of the natural wonders of Belize. This experience is modeled after a new exhibit that just opened at Sea World;


Imagine being in the forest with howler monkeys in the canopy or encountering a whale shark as it swims overhead! The exhibit experience then could follow a drop of water from the Rainforests, down streams and rivers, through seagrasses and mangroves, out to the coral reefs and beyond. Guests would meet red-eye tree frogs, neotropical otters and crocodiles. The finale would be a large, tunnel aquarium where visitors could get up close with sharks and large game fish.

There are four roles that aquariums play; Education, Conservation, Research and Entertainment. The goal is to interpret the protected areas; these national treasures of Belize. Though many people come to Belize to scuba dive or snorkel the reefs, not everyone is comfortable engaging in these activities, and there is so much to see. Those who do scuba dive the reefs like to learn more about what they have seen. This Aquarium would serve to connect people with nature in a safe and sustainable manner. Aquariums are powerful tourist magnets, often have significant economic impacts, and generate jobs.

Please support this proposal and invite others to help build an environmental learning center for Belize. Join the “Belize Aquarium Supporter” group on LinkedIn to comment on this proposal and to keep updated on progress.

#448743 - 10/14/12 06:53 AM Re: PROPOSAL TO DEVELOP A NATIONAL AQUARIUM OF BELIZE [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 57,756
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline
Why would we want an aquarium with caged (trapped) animals in it when we can see the real thing – if only we have the will to protect what is already here.

Protection from who or what?

Protection of our marine environment, and sea creatures, from the forces that are threatening both, including, but not limited to, over fishing, land and sea based pollution, inappropriate and unsustainable development, dredging and destruction of mangrove, seagrass and coral.

From whom: fishermen who refuse to believe that fish stocks are decreasing, fishermen who are unsustainably taking more than they should and not obeying the laws, the fisheries department for not enforcing the laws and allowing extraction of marine creatures such as sea cucumbers when we don’t know whether that extraction is sustainable, greedy developers, ministries and departments other than fisheries who also don’t obey the law and never met a proposal they didn’t like – such as the Department of the Environment and the Department of Geology, greedy Belizean property owners who sell their property knowing full well what will be done with it (and then complain because they don’t have any land), cruise ships, Japanese long liners, marine tour operators who do not adequately and appropriately supervise the tourists they take out, tourists who don’t take the time to learn and don’t care about protecting our marine environment, and those countries that refuse to acknowledge what they are doing to the marine environment by failing to invest in newer, less polluting technologies, and instead choose to continue to rely on coal and oil . . .

I can go on . . .

-Mary Toy

#461372 - 03/31/13 10:36 PM Re: PROPOSAL TO DEVELOP A NATIONAL AQUARIUM OF BELIZE [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Mar 2013
Posts: 9
DJGROSS  Offline
I believe that education is a very important part of protection and conservation. That is precisely why I proposed this "aquarium." It is more of a hybrid of natural history museum, aquarium and science center. The plan is to enhance environmental literacy and to provide an example of what it means to be sustainable. Just because you can snorkel a reef does not mean that you understand what you're seeing.

The Wild Center where I currently serve as Curator interprets the Adirondacks - a 6 million acre wilderness area in upstate New York which was declared "forever wild" by the state's constitution. The Adirondacks is a state park where about half the land is public and half private; so there is a tension between preservation and development. It is about the same size as Belize. The mission statement is “Ignite an enduring passion for the Adirondacks where people and nature can thrive together and set an example for the world”.

It was the first LEED certified museum in New York, and we have an online exhibit about what that means.

The museum also has done quite a lot with climate change. We produced a movie on the subject and have held 4 youth climate summits where schools have learned how to be more sustainable.

The best compliment I've overheard was one visitor telling another "If you pay attention in here, when you go outside it is much more meaningful." There are people who visit who have lived in the Adirondacks all their life who don't know much about it. This museum helps connect people with this wild place. I would like to do the same in Belize.

I am an aquatic biologist, master naturalist, and interpretive guide with more than 30 years experience connecting people with nature. I have helped to open 4 facilities including the National Aquarium in Baltimore. I was also Director of The National Aquarium in Washington DC for almost 10 years.

I am currently soliciting endorsement from the Ocean Elders; influential ocean advocates which include Dr. Sylvia Earle and Sir Richard Branson. If you like the idea please vote for it.

If you don't support the idea please let me know more about why you don't, so I can respond. Thanks!

#461405 - 04/01/13 09:52 AM Re: PROPOSAL TO DEVELOP A NATIONAL AQUARIUM OF BELIZE [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,434
Katie Valk Offline
Katie Valk  Offline
Contact Rachel Graham, Melanie Mc Field or Belize Zoo for professional feedback. Great idea

Belize based travel specialist
#461434 - 04/01/13 03:46 PM Re: PROPOSAL TO DEVELOP A NATIONAL AQUARIUM OF BELIZE [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 12,194
elbert Offline
elbert  Offline
Today is April first??

The Dive Shops Daily Blog
#461481 - 04/02/13 11:57 AM Re: PROPOSAL TO DEVELOP A NATIONAL AQUARIUM OF BELIZE [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Mar 2013
Posts: 9
DJGROSS  Offline
I am quite serious. What I propose is an institution of learning to strengthen environmental literacy and to provide an example of what it means to be sustainable. It would be a hybrid of natural history museum, aquarium and science center and built to celebrate the biodiversity of Belize.

The primary purposes of an aquarium are Education, Conservation, Research and Entertainment. Aquariums can also be significant economic engines; they're tourist magnets. This one would hire at least 30 people.

Many of the US National Marine Sanctuaries are developing Visitor Interpretive Centers to provide visitors with information about what is found there.

Panama is building a Museum of Biodiversity. <>

Above I mentioned the REEF HQ Aquarium in Australia as an example.

There are plenty of others:
Palau International Coral Reef Center:
Scripps Institution operates an aquarium:
Waikiki Aquarium:
Maui Ocean Center:

I do NOT plan to have swim with dolphin programs or sea lions like these:

I would like to develop a Net Zero self contained facility to serve as an example of what it really means to operate sustainably.

I read that wind and solar energy represent a negligible 0.03% of all primary energy sources in Belize.
Last year, at a conference called the Sustainable Operations Summit, Bill Clinton said: “Almost every country in the Caribbean could be completely energy independent with solar, wind, geothermal and biomass.”

Oil is so 20th century - it's time to move on beyond oil.

I encourage voting and comments on the Ocean Elder site. If I can get their endorsement I think that fund raising the US $30M would not be very difficult. I have been involved with 4 start-ups.

I have begun a facebook page and can be found on twitter:

#461482 - 04/02/13 12:08 PM Re: PROPOSAL TO DEVELOP A NATIONAL AQUARIUM OF BELIZE [Re: Katie Valk]  
Joined: Mar 2013
Posts: 9
DJGROSS  Offline
I met Sharon Matola at an AZA conference in 1988. I would like this facility to be complementary of the Zoo - focused upon aquatic creatures. There's currently a student group down there at the Zoo from Cornell University (in NY) doing some trail work. The Wild Center donated some tickets to the student's raffle so that they could fund their trip.
The Zoo does a great job of educating visitors and locals about the land creatures.

I have connected with Melanie and Heather and would appreciate their comments. I have also reached out to Mary Toy.

Thanks for your suggestion!

Up here in the Adirondacks The Wild Center is focused upon the natural history while the Adirondack Museum interprets the cultural history. These work together synergistically for the benefit of the people who live here. I would be happy to collaborate with anyone there working on protected areas.

#462769 - 04/20/13 01:12 PM Re: PROPOSAL TO DEVELOP A NATIONAL AQUARIUM OF BELIZE [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Mar 2013
Posts: 9
DJGROSS  Offline
If that cruise ship terminal on Crawl Caye is approved, then this coral reef interpretive center would be a very logical addition as a tourist attraction. It would be so much better than yet another Diamonds International Shop or casino.

"The cruise industry has created similar problems in the spots they've chosen for docking and single-day destinations. Becker notes that some sites have created "sacrifice zones" -- "areas where tourists would be gently pushed to protect the greater area." Countries like Belize have resorted to the so-called sacrifice zones to help protect nature preserves."

This coral reef interpretive center could help keep people off of the more vulnerable places.

#462781 - 04/20/13 06:55 PM Re: PROPOSAL TO DEVELOP A NATIONAL AQUARIUM OF BELIZE [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 7,468
SimonB Offline
SimonB  Offline
I think people would have much more enthusiasm if you could post your resume and business plan. The reason you aren't getting much support is because the community has seen many big plans from people without qualifications or backing (one of the reason that many developers and oil companies are treated as snake oil salesmen).

I will be honest with you, I've been here enough years that I wouldn't spend a penny on your proposition because I'm pretty sure I'd be making a contribution to your own wallet with no ROI for myself or the country. Don't forget that the Belize Zoo is a major educational centre for schools within the country not just tourists, how many locals could afford the trip out to this abomination within a marine reserve.

I wish you luck but step back for a moment and think things through, a dream is a great thing it's the execution that defines success.

#462789 - 04/20/13 09:16 PM Re: PROPOSAL TO DEVELOP A NATIONAL AQUARIUM OF BELIZE [Re: SimonB]  
Joined: Mar 2013
Posts: 9
DJGROSS  Offline
Hello Simon

My profile is on LinkedIn:

I have been working in the aquarium/museum industry for more than 30 years. I was a Biologist on the opening team of the National Aquarium in Baltimore. I was Director of The National Aquarium in Washington DC for almost 10 years. I also helped Landry's Restaurants get into the Aquarium industry.

I've visited Belize a couple of times and would like to explore more of it; I was thinking of eventually retiring there, but then this idea struck me.

One does not make much money working in not for profits. I enjoy working with the animals, interacting with people and sharing my knowledge of coral reefs and sharks. This concept is intended to complement the Belize Zoo; to do for the coral reefs what the zoo does for the terrestrial environment.

I just read the South Water Caye Management Plan, and I have also reviewed the education plan from PACT. It does not appear that much has been accomplished in this particular arena. One of the suggestions in that plan is to "Establish (a) Visitors Centre"

Aquariums can be very powerful tourist magnets with significant economic impacts. I would expect that this institution would employ at least 30 Belizeans.

I would like to set this up as a Belize NGO so that the money stays in Belize. While I don't have funding yet or a business plan to share, I am confident that the money to build this institution can be found. Right now it's just a concept.

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