Many who enjoy the underwater experience, be it diving or snorkeling, are eager to learn more about this submerged world of beauty and be a part of protecting it. Here’s one way to help: be a Belize Barrier Reef Watch Citizen Scientist by documenting reef health and diversity!

The Belize Barrier Reef Watch is one of many programs within Belize dedicated to protecting the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its Outstanding Universal Value in 1996.

Founded initially as the Mesoamerican Coral Reef Watch Program in 2008, the program responded to numerous observations of coral bleaching in Mexico, Belize, and Honduras. The Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund led the initiative. In Belize, the program is coordinated by ECOMAR, a Belize Coral Watch Network member organization.

In 2022, the Belize Coral Watch Program was revitalized as the Belize Barrier Reef Watch Program. The restored program has several goals, one being the Citizen Science program, where everyone from tourists, coastal residents, fishers, tour guides, resorts, dive and snorkel centers, non-governmental organization researchers, and government departments can submit reports based on the Belize Barrier Reef Watch List.

The “Watch List”

The Belize Barrier Reef is a diverse ecosystem that has supported Belize for centuries. Scientists and rangers are in the field daily monitoring use and health, but many sites are not regularly monitored. The Watch List includes critical attributes of the marine ecosystem in Belize. The level is geared towards the Citizen Scientist, but field reports from fishers, tourism industry representatives, NGOs, and researchers are welcome.

Twenty-four categories are monitored and documented. The list includes marine life, marine debris, commercial fishery products, and iconic megafauna, from the shore to the reef, through the ocean, to the territorial borders of Belize. As a Citizen Scientist, you can report on all categories or select your favorites, the ones you are most passionate about, and share those reports.

The information received is used to create the Belize Barrier Reef Annual Report, identifying resilient reefs or Hope Spots, document rare species, document nesting turtles, and engage coastal residents on how to support the efforts of the dedicated personnel charged with managing and monitoring the Belize Barrier Reef.

To submit a report, please go to Belize Barrier Reef Watch Once you submit a report of your reef observations, a team member will reach out with any additional questions. Thank you for your support and concern for the Belize Barrier Reef Ecosystem and for volunteering with ECOMAR and the Belize Barrier Reef Watch Program!

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About the Author: Tamara Sniffin

I’m a sucker for a fuzzy face, a feathered face, a face with fins or even one with scales! I am in love with the creatures and the flora that are synonymous with Belize and every opportunity I have to learn more about them and explore their wild habitats I am there! I’m the happiest when I’m snorkeling the reef and swimming with turtles, however my passion is not just limited to critters! Laced throughout this compact jungle gem of a country live the Kriol, Maya, Garifuna, Mestizo and Spanish people, and experiencing each culture, especially their celebrations is one of my favorite pastimes.

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