- The staff from the Belize Fisheries Department based at South Water Caye Marine Reserve
- Andrzej Narozanski at Utila Centre for Marine Ecology (UCME) for assistance with logistics and personnel for the survey work
- Bay Islands Conservation Association (BICA) for their advice and permission to conduct research around Utila.
These last two sites certainly were interesting as they had some major differences to the others.
Pelican Cayes mangroves
The Pelican Cayes are part of the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System – World Heritage Site (BBRRS-WHS) and are linked to the main reef by a series of deep channels. They have a unique habitat - fringing reefs around mangrove cayes - the root systems of which contain rare species of tunicates and sponges. The biodiversity of the mangrove habitat certainly seemed to be greater than that of the other sites but the full scale of the dissimilarity and if it is reflected on the reef as well will have to wait until the data has been fully analysed. However, a report after a UNESCO/IUCN monitoring mission conducted in March 2009 concluded that the property (BBRRS-WHS) is faced with specific and proven imminent danger, and should be considered for immediate inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger. The area around the Pelican Cayes was specifically sited due to extensive mangrove deforestation, dredging and development. After a stunning small aircraft flight down the reef to Honduras, some busses, taxis and a ferry we finally made it to Utila. Blessed with a couple of days of fine weather we were able to get around the northern side of the island which is predominantly undeveloped and more typical of the system. Unlike most of our sites there are no patch reefs and the island is essentially surrounded by a fringing reef with mangrove and seagrass habitats found within inlets and lagoons. As with all the locations up to date the we were able to engage the help of local NGOs we obtained valuable knowledge of the area from the staff at BICA. Along with the diving assistance from UCMS and the charter of a local dory and captain, the data collection ran like a well-oiled machine. It was great to hear about the work Andrzej is spearheading in Utila including Lionfish competitions between the dive centres and fishermen, the production of a responsible seafood guide and many other projects and campaigns he has on the go. I again want to extend my thanks and appreciation to all those that made this expedition possible and contributed to its success. As I sit here processing and analysing the data we collected I am already thinking towards developing more projects for the conservation of coral systems around the world and can’t wait to get back under the water again. Matthew Jasinski
Select a blog
Follow the latest news on ZSL’s Arts & Culture projects at ZSL London and Whipsnade Zoos, and ZSL’s conservation work through the lense of the Arts.
Get the latest on ZSL's conservation work in Asia.
Catch up on our latest Conservation Blogs
Join the ZSL Discovery and Learning team as they venture out of the zoo and in to the wild.
ZSL Whipsnade Zoo's elephant keepers give an insight into the daily goings on in the elephant barn.
Read about conservation of tigers in Asia.
One man is boldly going where no other ZSL videographer has gone before - the land of Mountain Chicken Frogs.
A blog for lovers of ZSL London Zoo. Bringing you amazing animal facts and exclusive access to the world's scientific oldest zoo.
Every month one of the pieces held in ZSL’s Library and at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo will feature here as Artefact of the month.
From the field, to the lab, catch up with the scientists on the cutting edge of conservation biology at ZSL’s Institute of Zoology.
The Wildlife Wood Project has been working in Cameroon since 2007 to encourage better wildlife management in logging concessions.
Updates from penguin conservation expeditions to Antarctica
Amur leopard conservation blog
Meet ZSL Whipsnade Zoo's latest (and leggiest) arrival, a baby giraffe!
Follow the ZSL Biodiversity and Palm Oil team, based in Bogor, Indonesia.
The Chagos marine reserve, designated in 2010 and currently the world’s largest no take marine reserve, is a sought-after spot for marine research.
Follow ZSL’s amphibian experts in their quest to find out why 41% of the world’s amphibians are threatened and what can be done to stop more species becoming extinct.
Follow ZSL conservationists studying desert baboons in Namibia.