Marine Conservation in Belize

Cheylynne Tyrrell Start Date: Jun 29, 2017 - End Date: Dec 28, 2017

My Travel Story

by: Cheylynne Tyrrell Start Date: Jun 29, 2017 - End Date: Dec 28, 2017
This winter I will be volunteering in a program in Belize with PodVolunteer, an environmental conservation organization. The goal of this program is to encourage the Belizean government to place and enforce preservation zones in the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve. Volunteers, through data collection and surveys, have helped to better understand the extensive biodiversity of the reef and helped to educate the local government on the importance of conservation.

In this program, volunteers are involved in lionfish population monitoring and control. Lionfish are native to the Indo-Pacific ocean region and have invaded the waters of the Caribbean , Gulf of Mexico and the southeast coast of the U.S. Because they are not native to the Atlantic Ocean, they have little natural predators and are a danger to other species including many cmmercial fish by both competing for food and feeding on their young.

Volunteers conduct queen conch surveys along the reef. The queen conch has been added to the protection of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora agreement in the U.S.. This species is not yet truly endangered in the Caribbean as a whole, but it is commercially threatened in numerous areas.

Other projects of this program include reef check surveys, coral watch data collections, lobster surveys, and contribute in community education and awarness. Along with being a part of these surveys, volunteers ( if they haven't already) are able to earn their basic Open Water diving certification or add on to their certification and gain a higher level of certification up to divemaster.

I am currently  a college senior and Paul Smith's college, planning to graduate a semester early in December 2017 with a bachelor's degree in Environmental Science and minors in biology and chemistry. My dream is to get into the marine conservation feild and help save our coral reefs. With your help, this trip will not only give me the opportunity to earn my advanced diving certificate in a beautifully diverse area, but will also give me the hands on experience I'll need when looking for a career while taking part in a greatly important project.

Thank you so very much for your helping me be a part of this program and contributing to the efforts of keeping the Caribbean a beautiful, diverse, healthy ecosystem for future generations to see.

Any extra funds raised will be donated to Pod Charity, which provides support where needed to programs and orinizations in 11 countries: Belize, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Ghana, India, Madagascar, Namibia, Nepal, Peru, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand. These programs and orgaizations help in relieving poverty and improving education, health and living conditions for socially and economically disadvantaged communities, improving care for animals in need, and protecting the environment through research and conservation projects.