Belize City’s Southside Kids swim with the Sharks and Rays
Wednesday, October 1st, 2014
On Sunday September 28th, 19 children from Friends Boys School in Belize City visited the island to enjoy a day on the water as marine scientists. The trip was a part of the “Kids Meet Sharks Program” led by marine biologist Dr. Rachel Graham and team.
According to Dr. Graham the program aims to bring awareness and appreciation for not only the sharks and rays of our Caribbean waters, but also the importance of the marine ecosystem. For Graham, this program was all made possible through funding awarded from the Whitley Fund for Nature. Since the inception of the program in 2011, it has seen the participation of children from Punta Gorda, Chunux, Sarteneja, Caye Caulker, San Pedro Town and now Belize City’s Southside. Before heading out to the waters with Ambergris Divers, the kids gathered at the Lions Den, where they were briefed on the day’s activities and the tools they would be utilizing.
These children, who in many instances have not had the opportunity to visit Ambergris Caye or experience marine sites such as the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley, enjoyed the first- hand experience of it all. The Belize Shark Project’s team of scientists snorkeled along with the junior scientists for the day, using the Global Positioning System (GPS), sonars and remote control underwater cameras to monitor the respected areas. They utilized much of their observational skills as they determined the sex of the various animals, and kept records of the size and number of sharks and rays spotted.
There will be three more schools from Southside Belize City participating in the program in the coming weeks. For the children, this was the experience of a lifetime; an opportunity to not only to become aware, but also learn a sense of responsibly and actively do their part to protect our marine wildlife.
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