ERI Hosts Reef Fish and Coral Identification Training Course
In early January, Marine Biologist, Celso Cawich and Marine Field Techinician, Jani Salazar got to play the role of teacher in offering the ERI’s first Reef Fish and Coral Identification TrainingCourse. The objective of the course was to familiarize participants with critical identifying features of coral and fish species in order to accurately identify a minimum of 95% of species commonly monitored during reef assessments as per Atlantic Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGGRA) and the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System Synoptic Monitoring Program.
A total of 16 participated in the course including students from the University of Belize (UB) along with personnel from the Department of the Environment and Belize Audubon Society. Participants, well at least those from DOE and BAS, got the feel of being in school again with 4 half-days of in class sessions. The sessions were held at the UB’s Central Campus during which, the instructors covered 48 coral and 96 fish species with the use of visuals and identification books.
With the completion of the theory sessions, instructors and participants packed up and travelled to the ERI’s Marine Field Station on Calabash Caye. The group spent 3 days on the island where they got hours of in-water identification experience under their belts. This gave participants the opportunity to look for those identifying features in actual coral specimens and became familiarized with the most dominant species found at Turneffe Atoll. Participants also got to experience group discussions particularly as it related to species identification and justifications when identifying a species.