Preserving Belize's Marine Environment

Coral Restoration

We see the preservation and sustainable use of Belize’s marine environment as central to Ray Caye’s ability to provide visitors an opportunity to see much of what Belize has to offer. Therefore, we are proud partners with Fragments of Hope (FoH), a Belize and U.S. not-for-profit organization that has two primary goals:

  1. Restoration of the Belize reef with genetically robust, diverse and resilient corals.
  2. Building capacity, education and knowledge sharing for local communities.

Coral reef health is rapidly declining in many places globally including Belize. Pollution, over-fishing, sedimentation and other local human impacts contribute to this trend, but global warming is the most serious long-term threat to corals. Elevated sea temperatures have caused wide spread bleaching and disease outbreaks contributing to massive mortality. In 2008 the Caribbean acroporids (Elkhorn and Staghorn) were the first corals to be listed on the IUCN Red List; their status is Critically Endangered, one step away from extinct in the wild. These corals formally were the most common in the Caribbean but their abundance has declined by >98% in the last 30 years.

Our partnership (along with others such as the World Bank, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, World Wildlife Fund and the Smithsonian Institute) with Fragments of Hope is helping to provide the resources needed to counter this decline. Reef restoration projects in Belize have involved affixing loose fragments of coral back to the reef with either cement and/or cable ties after storms or ship groundings that have broken up corals. Since 2009 researchers have taken this one step further by establishing multiple (23) coral nurseries in Belize. The focus is on the Acroporidae because of their endangered status and rapid growth rates: they can produce >300% of their original mass in just a year using three different artificial substrates: ropes, metal frames and cement discs on tables. While similar restoration efforts are occurring in places like Honduras, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, the Florida Keys and the Dominica Republic with the aim of re-seeding reefs, only in Belize has the primary focus been on climate change adaptation by identifying corals with the most resistance to bleaching and disease and replenishing shallow reef sites to improve shoreline protection. Both the coral host (animal) and their tiny symbiotic algae clades that live within the coral tissues have been genetically characterized in an effort to understand why some corals are more resistant and/or resilient to bleaching and disease. More details about FoH’s efforts in Belize can be found in the following video:

All of these efforts have resulted in FoH becoming the recipient of the UN Climate Change Award under their program Momentum of Change, Lighthouse activities, under the category “Women for Results” in 2017.

Ray Caye’s Contribution

So what have we done with the funds that Ray Caye donated to FoH? That is detailed in the list of items below:

Creation/doubling of educational material (500 posters, 2000 coloring books, and 180 puzzles)

A total of 3 lionfish round ups: (June 2018 [BZ$4116.20], September 2018 [$3571.64], and October 2018 [2159.43]) A grand total of 673 lionfish eradicated from our vulnerable reef + PTGA/Ray Caye/FoH booths

One-week SandWatch Summer Camp Program in Placencia and Seine Bight in July 2018 with over 30 participants; ages 8+ with special focus on mangrove ecology

A Successful 2018 September Reef Theme Parade led by Fragments of Hope, in partnership with Oceana and the Placencia Village Council resulted in many creative reef costumes, floats and an evident decrease in number of plastic items used during the event. Fragments of Hope also employed a locally made turtle sculpture by Anton Leslie that has been donated to the Placencia Village Council and now sits at the point of Placencia Village.

Three community consultations are successfully completed. Women’s group in Seine Bight are now getting sewing classes via MCCAP funding and began addressing the solid waste pollution within their community. Folks in Monkey River were able to address their coastline erosion with mapping information done by the Citizen Science GIS and attendees/tour guides in Placencia requested a billboard installation at LBC and Moho Caye that is now completed.

Promotional materials (water bottles, and signs/billboard for Moho Caye) are already installed at Moho Caye and Laughing Bird Caye National Park and water bottles awaits distribution.

At least 25% of the funds was dedicated to implement priority activity(s) resulting from public consults (e.g seaweed farming, crab farming, more coral work, potential new ideas)

Events/outreach coordinator dedicated to organization and dissemination of all events/activities inclusive of guarantee articles in the Placencia Breeze before and/or after specific events, highlighting the generous donation.