Reef Conservation International are one of the hosts from our Adventures for Good Collection. Here we find out about their mission and how your adventure helps.
Please tell us a bit more about Reef CI, what’s your mission?
Our mission is to preserve and manage the Belize Barrier Reef for generations to come by inspiring, educating, and encouraging change via our volunteer citizen-scientists. Not many people know it’s the second largest Barrier Reef in the world.
In the developing world, environmental challenges often take a back seat to seemingly more pressing social and economic development issues — but they are undoubtedly linked. Preserving and protecting the environment is necessary for improved quality of life and can contribute to economic and social development in places like Belize.
What are the biggest challenges facing the Barrier Reef in Belize?
You may be surprised to hear that the invasive lionfish is one of the greatest threats to the sustainability of coral reefs and fisheries habitat throughout the Caribbean. Scientists are predicting that lionfish will have a grave impact on Belize’s already stressed stocks of fish and lobster and could spell potential disaster to our marine habitats.
This non-native species was inadvertently released into the Atlantica-Caribbean oceans back in the mid 1980’s: probably from personal aquarium releases in Florida by people whose lionfish were getting too big for the tank or eating the other fish. Lionfish are indigenous to the Pacific and Indian oceans and the Red Sea but not the Atlantic-Caribbean belt. In their natural habitat, they have a diet that is not a threat to the environment; there are many more varieties of species and they have natural predators to keep their numbers in check. However, in the Atlantic-Caribbean oceans they are a highly invasive predator, feeding on species that are key to our healthy reef environment such as juvenile groupers, parrotfish and crustaceans. These native species have no evolutionary defence mechanism against the invasive lionfish.
So how to do ‘Citizen Scientists’ volunteers help?
Calling all apex predators! One of the ways our volunteers help to protect the reef is by hunting, spearing, and eradicating this invasive species.. ReefCI staff and guests are on target to remove over 7,000 lionfish this year alone and dissect 1,585 for research purpose. In fact, ReefCI is removing more lionfish and collecting more data on lionfish than any other organization in the country of Belize. This is an ethical, approved way of removing this dangerous threat to our reef.
What other ways do ReefCI protect and conserve the reef?
We focus our marine conservation work across several programmes including:
- Queen Conch surveys
- Lobster surveys
- Commercial fish surveys
- Reef health surveys – ReefCI check & Coral watch
- Whale shark monitoring
- Coral reef bleaching and bio-diversity dives
Tell us about how someone visiting Belize can get involved?
ReefCI volunteer trips are a unique opportunity to learn about the marine environment and to help protect and conserve this precious resource while having an amazing diving holiday. You can combine learning to dive or further your dive qualifications; everyone contributes regardless of their experience. All the profits from your visit go directly back into supporting our mission. Through our citizen-scientist programs, we empower everyday global citizens to take an active role in directly protecting and conserving the marine environment. Our goal is to encourage everyone to become a part of our community of people who care about the future of our planet’s oceans. Take a look at this video to find out more.
Had the fantastic opportunity earlier this year to showcase the work Reef Conservation International are doing to protect the second largest barrier reef in the world – The Belize Barrier Reef.This first film is about the venomous and invasive lionfish (Pterois volitans), enjoy! ReefCI
Posted by Sophy Crane on Friday, April 27, 2018
If you would like to help preserve the Barrier Reef in Belize its easy to get involved, and every single pair of hands will make an impact.
All photos courtesy of Reef Conservation International.
About our Adventures for Good collection
Much Better Adventures was born from a belief that travel can, and should, be a force for good. We take responsible, sustainable travel pretty seriously. For all of our trips, we only work with local, independent providers in order to channel money into rural, local economies. This creates a virtuous circle with local communities and governments who are empowered and incentivised to protect and conserve the incredible environments which attracted these visitors in the first place.
However our Adventures for Good take this philosophy one step further. These trips have been carefully selected to ensure you not only have an amazing adventure, but they also directly support some pioneering organisations delivering positive social impact across the world.
All of the hosts selected for these trips have a proven track record of delivering impressive results in their community and / or through conserving the environment they are working in. Proceeds from every trip are put directly towards achieving that mission so your adventure helps to build a positive legacy.