We had our first movie night last Wednesday at the Lion’s Den in the middle of town! Our turn out was almost triple what it had been last year, which was really heartening to see! In total, we had about 50 children show up, and about 10 parents came out as well. We watched Moana, and though we had some technical issues with the DVD at the start, Glenda and Emily came through and fixed them. The kids had a lot of fun! Most of them had seen Moana before and knew all the musical numbers by heart, so when they started playing, the whole crowd would belt the songs along with the characters. At the end of the movie, we handed out about 40 flyers for Coral Ed camp! Overall, I would say that movie night was incredibly successful.
On Friday afternoon, we set out to Sarteneja and arrived at Shipstern Conservation and Management Area which is managed by the Corozal Sustainable Forestry Initiative (CSFI). We were able to hear from Abner Quevedo (the program manager for tourism) about the kind of work that CSFI does in the surrounding local communities. We learned that they are very involved in the process of maintaining the forest as a protected area, and are building understanding with each of the community groups that live in the surrounding area around sustainability, conservation, and our duty to protect the ecosystem. In his words “without the jungle, without the trees and the birds and the wildlife, we cannot survive.” On Saturday, we had the privilege of visiting some of the community members involved in conservation efforts. We started out the morning learning about the indigenous Maya influence in Belize and the agriculture and harvesting practices that the Maya practiced for over 500 years. Next, we visited a Mennonite community and gained perspective about their way of life and values in order to understand why it is so difficult to communicate with them about issues of sustainability and community development. Lastly, we visited a manatee and primate rehabilitation and restoration group called Wild Tracks and learned about their efforts to raise public awareness about the illegal pet trade of monkeys, and to care for manatees and primates which have been injured or abused by humans, or displaced by natural disasters. The tour was extremely illuminating, as Abner and Ermilo (our tour guides) were extremely knowledgeable and willing to answer any and all of our questions!
Preparations for Research Week
Finally, we have been preparing for research week which started today (Monday 17). The professors landed last Wednesday, and since then, we have been practicing our skills at snorkeling and diving at Mexico Rocks, as well as employing research methods such as laying transects, placing the scale bars, identifying soft corals, and getting comfortable working underwater! It has been quite the experience, both difficult and also beautiful. So far, we have taken three trips to Hol Chan and have seen nurse sharks, sea turtles, eagle rays, southern rays, a vast number of fish (including pufferfish, parrotfish, damselfish, angelfish, snapper, etc), a great variety of corals, sea urchins and nudibranchs! Here are some of our favorite pictures from under the sea.
-René & Team STARRS