“Celebrating our Natural Heritage – Securing our Future”
The reef is a very important ecosystem for our beautiful island and country. In order to create awareness and help preserve it, every year Reef Week is celebrated in honor of our natural heritage. This year it was celebrated under the theme “Celebrating our Natural Heritage, Securing our Future” from May 14 – 18, 2012.
Hol Chan Marine Reserve planned an entire week of activities which kicked off on Sunday, May 13, 2012, with the Healthy Reefs Swim Challenge that involved six high school students swimming from Caye Caulker Village to San Pedro Town in hopes to bring awareness for the reef. (Read “What’s Up Today, Gerry?” for more information on the challenge.)
Following the swim challenge was Mangrove Rehabilitation Day which was held on Monday, May 14, 2012, at the Boca Del Rio Park. Students were invited to participate in this activity and after a brief lecture on the importance of mangroves in our eco-system students were planting mangrove seeds in the area. Using the Riley Encased Methodology, over 30 mangrove seedlings were planted.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012, was Tour Guides Career Day where, at selected Dive Shops, students were hosted and presented with lectures on the reef. Participating dive shops were Chuck and Robby Dive Shop, Dive Connections, Belize Diving Adventures and schools that participated were Isla Bonita Elementary, St. Peters Elementary, San Pedro R.C School and Ambergris Caye Elementary School.
The Reef Week Trivia Competition took place on Wednesday, May 16, 2012, at the Lion’s Den, where students’ knowledge on the reef and environment was put to test. After a few hotly contested rounds it all came down to bonus tie-breaking round where Erwin Caliz of San Pedro RC School took 1st Place followed by Jose Marin of ACES and Dylan Sreshta of Island Academy winning second and third place respectively.
Erwin Caliz won a netbook (computer) and a round trip flight to Belize City courtesy of Tropic Air, Jose Marin won a school bag filled with school supplies, a beach cruiser bike and a snorkeling gear set and Dylan Sreshta won a school bag filled with school supplies and a snorkeling gear set.
The Marine Reserve Office hosted an open day for all students to learn more about Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Bacalar Chico Reserve and other protected areas in Belize. During the open day there was an exhibition of arts made from trash. Winner of the photograph competition was Maverick Fuentes- (Prize: lunch for 2 at Rico's Restaurant, school bag filled w/school supplies and an engraved glass award). Winners for the trivia competition, the arts and trash competition and photograph competition were awarded and given their prizes.
It was a week full of educational activities to celebrate our natural heritage and create awareness. We give kudos to all the schools that participated in the week-long celebration and to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve for all their hard work and dedication in protecting our beautiful ecosystem for future generations to enjoy.