Rachel Graham of the Wildlife Conservation Society is doing a transect of a portion of Belize; Southern waters. Sheís trying to find out what species use the waters and what for. Itís a major research project and an ongoing one. We caught up with her west of long caye in southern Belize this weekend where she said she is looking for the big fish, and even found some dolphins willing to go along for the ride.
Rachel Graham - Wildlife Conservation Society
"This is our second day of our annual monitoring effort for Marine Mega Fauna, we include sharks, rays, turtles and any other large fish that we may come across. We have several people going along and swimming for about a kilometer and counting everything that they see and also taking down their sizes and the sex of the animals. We're also doing Fishries Independent Longline Survey whereby we actually bait for catch, tag and then release sharks that we catch. Some of the information that we're collecting here at Lighthouse Reef Atoll on sharks, rays and turtles are giving us an idea exactly how healthy are the populations in the sharks and rays and turtles on the atoll. What we have found so far is pretty exciting. Lighthouse reef happens to have one of the highest abundance of sharks, rays and turtles in the entire country of Belize. More importantly what we're finding is that this is an absolutely key habitat for the most iconic shark in the Caribbean which is the Caribbean Reef Shark. They come here to their babies that are called pups, they grow up here, they reproduce here and then they even go to other parts of the Belize Barrier Reef. We've been working here at Lighthouse Reef Atoll since 2007 and we do our annual monitoring and we hope to continue that in the very far future as long as there are sharks to work with, people to train and people to get excited about sharks and also we need to know if the populations are going up or down and what those sharks are doing."
She is working in the waters off The Halfmoon Caye Natural Monument in the Lighthouse Reef Area.