Reef Week held under the theme “Celebrating our Natural Heritage Securing our Future”

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

Reef Week is being celebrated on Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker under the theme "Celebrating our Natural Heritage Securing our Future." For that reason, Hol Chan Marine Reserve planned a number of activities which started on May 14th and continues through May 18th, all geared at celebrating the natural environment and educating the population about the importance of the wetland and the reef system in Belize. As part of the activities, students from both islands were invited to participate in the various events.

Events kicked off with a Mangrove Rehabilitation Day where primary school children were invited to plant mangrove in the Boca del Rio area near the park. The mangrove seedlings were placed in tube encasements using the Riley Encased Methodology. According to Education Officer at the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Mariela Archer, a total of 30 mangrove seedlings were planted. "Our goal is to create awareness within the entire country and the islands, about the importance of mangroves to us, especially for up-keeping our coastlines," said Archer.

On Tuesday May 15th, students from schools on both islands visited various dive shops as part of Tour Guides Career Day. Such event provided the students with the opportunity to learn about some of the things that tour guiding requires. On May 16th, students competed against each other testing their knowledge on the ecosystem and marine animals during the annual Trivia Competition at the Lions Den. The Hol Chan Marine Reserve headquarters in San Pedro remained opened the entire day on May 17th for a Marine Reserve Open Day where students visited, learned and asked questions about the marine ecosystem in Belize. They also had the opportunity to view the pictures that were submitted as part of the Photography Competition. Activities for the week will end on Friday, May 18th with a similar Mangrove Rehabilitation Day in Caye Caulker Village.

Archer ended by saying, "Our lives on the island revolve around tourism and everything we do relates back to the environment so one of the main things is for us to understand the importance of taking care of our environment." The celebration of Reef Week highlights the importance of the Belize’s Barrier Reef System which stretches over 180 miles along the country’s coastline. It is the second largest in the world.

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