Abalone Caye, a small island in Port Honduras Marine Reserve and the location of TIDE's marine ranger station, is being saved from being washed away by the waves by a new artificial reef.
A year since efforts began in earnest to save Abalone Caye and the Port Honduras Marine Reserve (PHMR) ranger station from being washed away by rising waves, the construction of an artificial reef around part of the caye has not only slowed and perhaps even stopped the erosion, but surveys show fish abundance and biodiversity to have increased in the vicinity.
The new artificial reef has also become a handy educational tool, providing an ideal sheltered lagoon full of fish, with easy and safe access for school children and other groups to snorkel in and learn about marine life, and all right next to the ranger station!
After a high number of turtle strandings this year, a rehab facility could be included into the design, providing a safe and convenient location for stranded marine animals, such as turtles, to recover under surveillance by the ranger staff.
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Re: Abalone Caye - Here to stay and new fish magnet
#454530 01/03/1310:58 AM01/03/1310:58 AM
Abalone Caye’s Struggling Survival Against Erosion
In southern Belize, Abalone Caye is part of a reserve co-managed by TIDE, the Toledo Institute for Development. The caye stretches for half an acre within the larger Port Honduras Marine Reserve. Because of its strategic location, it is vulnerable to a host of illegal activities. But the caye is also suffering from major environmental degradation and has severely eroded. TIDE is partnering with P.A.C.T. and the Getch Foundation to restore the caye. News Five’s Hipolito Novelo was at Abalone Caye to record the work being done by TIDE to deal with the erosion caused by the pounding waves.
In southern Belize, Abalone Caye is part of a reserve co-managed by TIDE, the Toledo Institute for Development. The caye stretches for half an acre within the larger Port Honduras Marine Reserve. Because of its strategic location, it is vulnerable to a host of illegal activities. But the caye is also suffering from major environmental degradation and has severely eroded. TIDE is partnering with the Getch Foundations to restore the caye. News Five’s Hipolito Novelo was at Abalone Caye to record the work being done by TIDE to deal with the erosion caused by the pounding waves. Here is that story.
Hipolito Novelo, Reporting
This is Abalone Caye. Located some thirty minutes off the coast of Punta Gorda, this half-acre caye forms part of the larger Port Honduras Marine Reserve. Its location is strategic. Its continued existence is crucial.
Celia Mahung, Executive Director, T.I.D.E.
“Abalone Caye where we are at is the ranger’s station that houses the park rangers of TIDE, Toledo Institute of Development and Environment and also, personnel of the Belize Coast Guard. And this is a strategic area because it is it is basically in the middle of the reserve and so a lot of surveillance that can happen from this station. There is a lookout tower at the top and rangers can have a good idea of what is happening in the reserve and ensure that no illegal activities occur in the reserve. So it is really in a strategic location within the marine reserve.”
The Toledo Institute of Development and Environment, TIDE, manages Port Honduras Marine Reserve which encompasses more than one hundred acres of marine and terrestrial ecosystem. TIDE Rangers and Coast Guards Officers are stationed at Abalone Caye, where they would keep a close eye over the reserve.
“The conservation zone which only allows for recreational activities is not too far away from here and the ranges can see the conversation zone from this station.”
Abalone Caye is located in the middle of the reserve and acts as a central hub for TIDE’s enforcement and research activities. It allows TIDE to carry out more effective patrol. But the ranger’s station, the work that TIDE does and Abalone Caye are under threat.
Believe it or not, Abalone Caye was once larger in mass ten years ago than what it is today. Mangroves grew abundantly and the island was teeming with wildlife. A bird trail once existed on Abalone Caye but that’s all gone as the crushing waves have been slowly eroding the caye over the years.
Heidi Waters, Science Director, T.I.D.E
“The number one reason why an island erodes is from wave action, water action. The reason behind this was why is the water action stronger? Is the wind changed velocity or have we have ocean currents that have changed in the area? Some of this could be from increased storm surge or increase frequency. That is a possibility. There is a lot of reason why that started from the beginning and some of was possibly removing some of the reef rubble rock to build the station and also removal of the mangroves. Those are things that may have caused the erosion on this side later on.”
Mangroves are crucial as they protect shorelines from strong storms and hurricane winds. Mangroves weaken the blow of crushing waves. Its roots prevent erosions by stabilizing sediments. TIDE has begun restoring the mangrove population in the caye.
“So we tried replanting using a method where you have the rubes and you plant the mangroves in the tubes to protect them from the storm. We realized that planting them in the tube has helped the mangrove to survive the wind and the wave action. As you can tell, some of those mangroves are growing very well in those tubes so it is something that we can continue doing for sure.”
While the mangroves grow to mature stage and full protective capacity, TIDE implemented a band aid solution by protecting the shoreline with gabion baskets.
“So we started by experimenting with bringing boulders from inland and putting them in gabion baskets. We started first in the area where wave action was highest. After six to nine months we started to see some changes. The water was no longer coming under the ranger’s station. I would say that erosion was minimized to some extent.”
“This started the work. It did help a lot but it is not completed. They have to add more to it, at least every year. They have to study the impacts of the angle of the wall that they are putting it in and how high the slope of the wall because all of this will change the water circulation and the wave impact on the island.”
A nine hundred and five thousand dollars investment will see some of that money go to the restoration of Abalone Caye. The Protected Areas Conservative Trust has partnered with the Getch Foundation to improve the resilience of Belize’s coastal and marine resources to the negative impacts of climate change. As part of the initiative, erosion studies at Abalone Caye will be conducted and ways how to effectively address it will be identified.
Nayar Diaz-Perez, Executive Director, P.A.C.T.
“The overall investment that we will be doing with Getch Foundation is a little over nine hundred thousand dollars in four protected area. Port Honduras Marine Reserve specifically Abalone Caye is one of those four protected areas. We are going to be investing a little over three hundred and fifty three thousand dollars in activities in Abalone Caye. We are going to be doing erosion studies to try and ascertain main causes of the erosion issue. We are going to do the environmental impact assessment and other processes that have to be done in line with the activities will take place and we are looking at likelihood at doing restoration and reclamation activities over the next two years.”