I’m just wrapping up the annual MarineGEO monitoring and experimental campaign in Belize, and what a couple of weeks it’s been! This year, like previous years, we did Reef Life Survey (RLS) fish and invertebrate surveys in fore reef, patch reef, seagrass, mangrove, and sand habitats, but we also beefed up our Squidpop and Weedpop deployments with the added element of GoPros. We also had a communications expert on-island from Smithsonian’s Ocean Portal to help us spread the word about our field efforts and orchestrate a Facebook live event that gave viewers a tour of the island we work on, Carrie Bow Cay.
Carrie Bow Cay (pronounced ‘key’) is a <1 acre island 12 miles off the coast of Belize on the southern end of the Yucatan Peninsula perched atop the world’s second-largest barrier reef (you may have heard of it’s big sister, the GREAT Barrier Reef.) It’s been used as a Smithsonian research station for over 40 years has played a key role in teaching us about reef ecosystems. This year, to better understand how predation and herbivory by fishes shapes marine habitats on reefs and adjacent habitats, we filmed our Squidpop and Weedpop assays with ten GoPro cameras for one hour each. The cameras were attached to dive weights and watched as various fishes nibbled and pecked at the squid and algal offerings we laid out for them.
We also took our communications game to a new level this year by holding our annual ‘Science Cafe’ community outreach event at the Pelican Resort in Dangriga, Belize, and streaming a Facebook Live event from Carrie Bow itself. You can see an archived version of that streaming tour on the Ocean Portals Facebook page.