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A Check Up On Belize's Reef


Ever wonder how the second longest barrier reef in the world is doing? Well, according to the Healthy Reef Initiative’s 2012 “Report Card for the Mesoamerican Reef”, not so good. The report card shows that approximately 73% of the Belizean reefs are in poor or critical condition while a mere 5% is considered in good health.

But how was the grade obtained? One part of it involves the surveying of different sites throughout the region with the collection of data on parameters indicative of the health status of the reef. These indicators translate the complex dynamics of the reef ecosystem into quantifiable results that can then be used to compare/track change in reef status over time.

The ERI, through Marine Biologist, Celso Cawich, joined representatives from Healthy Reefs Initiative, the Belize Audubon Society (BAS), Toledo Institute for Development and Environment (TIDE) and Blue Ventures in carrying out Atlantic Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGGRA) surveys. AGGRA is a standardized monitoring protocol used through the region [See www.AGGRA.org]. In Belize, the Lighthouse Reef Atoll holds several of 68 total survey sites throughout Belizean territory.

The team was based at the BAS’s quarters on Half Moon Caye. For three days they surveyed four reef sites with focus on indicators such as benthic cover, coral characterization, reef fish data and herbivorous species, to name a few.

Data collected from these surveys will contribute to national efforts towards publishing a 2013 Report Card for the Mesoamerican Reef, including Belize’s barrier reef system. This effort is being led by Robert Pott, Belize Coordinator and Social Scientist for the Healthy Reefs Initiative.

For more information on the surveys and the previous report cards visit: www.healthyreefs.org

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