Reef Brief - Reef Check Belize Expedition 2004 - by Kristen Stelljes

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 14, No. 33            September 15, 2004

Features: Search Issues | Read Back Issues | Subscriptions | Merchandise Ordering Information

Set to the task of completing 20 coral reef surveys and training 40 people in the Reef Check method, Green Reef "took to the sea" the first two weeks of August. Green Reef is the regional training center for Reef Check in Belize, and is responsible for training interested people in the Reef Check methodology, and completing surveys to send to the international headquarters. Reef Check was founded in 1997 as a grassroots, volunteer initiative to help local communities learn how to monitor the health of their coral reefs using a standard, scientifically rigorous method. Over 60 countries are currently using the Reef Check method to monitor the health of their reefs. The information the volunteer teams collect is compiled at the Reef Check Headquarters in the United States to give community members, scientists, and advocates a picture of reef health around the world. This information can be used to help communities and marine protected areas better manage their reefs, and can be used to educate local people about the importance of the reef and the threats that the reef "right outside their doors" is facing.

    This year, Green Reef received a grant from the Oak Foundation (through Reef Check) to train 40 people, including marine protected area staff and the organizations that co-manage Belize's marine reserves. The trainees attended a short session on the protocol and reference materials, before diving with the team to observe how the surveys work firsthand. These people can now use the information they learned through the training to monitor their own reef over the following years. The reserves visited were: Turneffe Islands, Lighthouse Reef, South Water Caye, Gladden Split Marine Reserve, Glover's Reef, Port Honduras Marine Reserve, and the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve. Caye Caulker Marine Reserve, Hol Chan Marine Reserve, and Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve will receive training later this month.   

    The other task for the Reef Check team was to complete 20 surveys, 10 inside protected areas and 10 outside of protected areas, in order to establish a baseline for Belize. Team members, Mario Graniel, Mito Paz, Laurie Smith, and Kristen Stelljes, conducted the surveys and kept very busy doing four dives a day to accomplish their task. The surveys were not all work however, as the beautiful reefs of Belize showed off their beauty and diversity during all of the dives.   

    Green Reef is very grateful to the marine reserves that participated in the training and the team members who did the surveys. We also would like to thank Clive Forman and the Offshore Express for providing Green Reef with a very smooth and comfortable trip, Pancho Gutierrez for being our excellent boatman and assisting with all of the dives, Victor Santoya for keeping everyone well fed, and Denton Haylock for all of his assistance. We are also grateful to Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Amigos del Mar Dive Shop for their support. 

    Keep reading Reef Brief to find out the results of the surveys when the data has finally been analyzed!
Search go!
| | Island Info | Community | History | Visitor Center |
Belize News | | Messages |

Copyright © San Pedro Sun. Design by Casado Internet Group

San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, Belize News