High school students get Reef Week outing

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Some 40 students  got an opportunity to experience first hand the magnificence of the Belize Barrier Reef on Tuesday March 19th thanks to Oceana.  As part of its Reef Week activities, Oceana in Belize took the students from Southside Belize City high school on an excursion to Caye Caulker and its nearby Marine Reserve.
Led by qualified tour guides, the students – most for the very first time ever—got to snorkel at Coral Gardens then to interact with nurse sharks and stingrays at Caye Caulker’s famous Shark-Ray Village.
Since its introduction to Belize some three years ago Oceana has sought to allow as many Belizeans as possible, especially the young, to experience for themselves the wonders of the Belize Barrier Reef.

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Oceana’s VP Audrey Matura-Shepherd summed up the experience, “This is the first ever nationwide Reef Week, so there is absolutely no way we could celebrate this week without providing an opportunity for some students from our less well-off Southside Belize City neighbourhoods to see for themselves and come to appreciate our awesome treasure, the Barrier Reef. It is ours to enjoy and use responsibly so that like our parents passed it on to us, this generation can pass it on to Belizeans, as well as visitors, yet unborn.”

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Students on the outing came from Excelsior High School, Gwen Lizarraga High School and Maud Williams High School. More experienced students of St. John’s Junior College and the University of Belize and a volunteer marine scientist assisted the tour in explaining the splendor of the Belize Barrier Reef on display at the Caye Caulker Marine Reserve.
Reef Week aims to raise awareness of the pivotal role the Barrier Reef plays in Belizean lives and livelihood. Oceana premiered a mini-documentary titled “Meet a Fisherman” during a cocktail party hosted at the Radisson Fort George to launch Reef Week.  This eight minute video features two primary-school aged, aspiring journalists asking local fishermen about their experiences and challenges.

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Oceana has planned a series of events to mark Reef Week  which it is hoped becomes an annual event. The Week culminated with a parade off the Belize City coast of decorated boats styled a Sea Carnival, followed immediately by a Reef Fair at the San Cas Park at Fort Point, opposite the Baron Bliss Lighthouse. An invitation is extended to all to come out and enjoy these events which are planned not just to be eco-friendly but family-friendly as well.

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