16 de marzo de 2008


White sand beaches predominate the palm-fringed Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve, a World Heritage site. Once the base of pirate John Glover, now boaters, divers and anglers flock to this isolated island. The most remote of the atolls, Glover’s Reef is about 70 miles southeast of Belize City. The far-out location makes this one of the most pristine areas in Belize. Brilliant blue waters in the 80-square-mile lagoon are dotted with some 700 coral patches and surrounded by 50 miles of sheer drop-offs ranging from 40 to 2,600 feet long. Excellent scuba diving, snorkeling, fly-fishing, kayaking and camping are all available here.
On Northeast Caye, Glovers Atoll Resort has cabins, camping, scuba diving, snorkeling, fly-fishing and marine instruction. Sea kayakers can explore patch reefs and the vertical wall surrounding the atoll through Slickrock Adventures, based on Long Caye. Their Water Sports Center resort features scuba diving, windsurfing and kayak surfing. There is also the chance for scenic camping on Long Caye.
Southwest Cayes consists of two islands. Kayaking can be done on the northernmost of the two islands. Manta Resort features thatched-roof cabanas, diving, snorkeling and fishing on the 14-acre southernmost island.

Wildlife Conservation Society at the forefront of Marine Conservation in Belize

Glovers Reef Marine Research Station WCS saves wildlife and wildlands by understanding and resolving critical problems that threaten key species and large, wild ecosystems around the world. As a leader in science-based conservation of marine wildlife for nearly a century, WCS’s Marine Program continues to promote conservation in the world’s oceans, seas and rivers. In over 20 countries, the WCS Marine Program develops innovative and constructive approaches to conserving marine biodiversity.
Located off the coast of Belize, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef system in the Western Hemisphere. WCS’s Glovers Reef Marine Research Station, situated approximately 28 miles (45 kilometers) offshore, offers scientists throughout the world an opportunity to conduct high quality research focused on conserving marine wildlife at one of the Caribbean’s most complex and important coral reef systems.
The Glovers Reef Marine Research Station’s mission is to promote the long-term conservation and management of the Belize Barrier Reef through in-situ research, cooperative management, training, and education. The station successfully promotes the combination of both research and policy by serving as a scientific research station, a marine park headquarters for the Government of Belize and a location for students and local public to be educated and trained about the reef system and conservation.
Getting to Know Glovers ReefThe Belize Barrier reef is one of the world’s outstanding barrier reef systems, containing a necklace of three offshore atolls, hundreds of sand cays and patch reefs, mangrove forests, coastal lagoons, estuaries and a thriving ecosystem comprised of approximately 500 species of fish, 134 bird species, three varieties of nesting sea turtles, and one of the largest populations of West Indian Manatees.
One of the three off-shore atolls within the Belize barrier reef section of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef is Glover’s Reef Atoll, approximately 45 km off the coast of Belize. It is located at the southern most end of the Belize Barrier reef and is an oval-shaped atoll measuring 32km long and 12km wide. At a glance, Glovers Reef is composed of a deep lagoon studded with about 850 patch reefs and pinnacles rising to the surface, six sand cays located on the reef crest along the southern edge, and a peripheral reef broken in only three places by deep channels. Glovers Reef has three main habitats; the lagoon floor, the peripheral reefs and the patch reefs, and is recognized as the most biologically developed atoll within the Belize Barrier Reef. The extraordinary biodiversity found at Glovers Reef makes it an important area for conservation currently as well as an economically important area for locals. Some key economically important species that are found within the atoll are the spiny lobster, queen conch, Nassau grouper, black grouper, hogfish, mutton fish, and queen triggerfish. Of these, the Nassau grouper is listed as an endangered species on IUCN’s Red list. The atoll is also home to three endangered species of turtles. Glovers Reef is also renowned for containing the greatest diversity of coral reef types.
Each of the six sand cays within the atoll is privately owned, except for the southern portion of Southwest Cay, where the lighthouse is located. WCS owns Middle Cay, one of the six sand cays and uses it as a home for Glovers Reef Marine Research Station. The atoll is located in a sub tropical climate, with average temperatures between 24C and 27C. During November to February it is slightly colder due to northern winds and the likelihood for stormy weather and frequent rain is higher. Since located in the hurricane belt, during the months of June to November there is also the potential threat for Glovers to be subject to hurricanes. For more detailed information regarding Belize's weather please visit the Belize National Meteorological Service Website.
Glovers Reef Marine Research StationWCS began its involvement in Belize during the late 1980’s when it initiated the planning and creation of Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve. Finally in 1993, Glover’s reef was declared a Marine Reserve by the government of Belize. The reserve was established to maintain ecological processes, preserve genetic diversity, achieve sustainable yields through informed management of species and their habitats, maintain natural areas for education and research, and provide social and economic benefits through ecologically sensitive tourism and recreation (For more information see Marine Reserve).WCS, recognizing that declaring Glovers Reef as a marine reserve was not enough to protect and conserve the amazing habitats and species found there, made a commitment to the region by purchasing Middle Cay and opening a research station. The intention of Glovers Reef Marine Research Station is to provide both a platform for scientists to conduct cutting edge research to ensure effective conservation management, as well as provide a home for the marine reserve head quarters. Annually the research station serves as a platform for over 45 researchers and since opening in 1997, the station has hosted more than 100 scientific expeditions and served as a platform for 400 researchers and students. The research station is also used regularly for meetings concerning the management of the atoll. (See Facilities for more information)
Research at Glovers ReefTo accomplish WCS’ mission of long term conservation of Glover’s reef and the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, GRMRS promotes and supports research primarily focused on management related issues which can be applied to developing effective management strategies. Past research as well as current research has focused on investigating the trends and status of important species within the atoll, evaluating the effectiveness of marine reserves as a conservation strategy and the importance of the atoll for a variety of different marine species. With low levels of human intervention, coral communities with intact trophic structuring, and several different management zones within the atoll, Glover’s reef is a prime location for researchers to conduct their investigations (See Research and Publications for more information) Discovering Coral ReefsCoral reef ecology is a large part of the research being conducted at Glover’s Reef. Researchers are working to uncover the ecological relationships that exist among the fish, coral and algal communities at the atoll and even how larger fish, including several shark species use the atoll. Like other coral reef ecosystems around the world, Glover's Reef Atoll faces increasing pressure from humans. Locally and regionally, overfishing along with pollution from shipping, tourism and deforestation are significant threats to the ecologically fragile reef system.
At the same time, Glover's has been affected by the global problem of coral bleaching, the process in which stressed coral polyps discharge their symbiotic algae. The 1998 worldwide bleaching event, intensified by El Niño, caused a 20 percent mortality rate at Glover's. Also in 1998, Hurricane Mitch, which stalled off the coast of Belize for several days, caused major damage to vast areas of the reef. How these collective factors will affect Glover's Reef over both the short and long term will be the subject of extensive studies of WCS scientists. It has been found that within Glover’s reef, coral loss and loss of previous coral zonation patterns is occurring. Researchers are looking to discover more answers, but have determined that in addition to coral bleaching and hurricanes, increased algae growth, lower abundance of reef fish, and reduced herbivory seem to impact the survival and abundance of certain coral types. The research has started to uncover some of the intricate trophic interactions at the reef among the coral and other species, but much more research is needed to fully understand and protect this precious environment from the threats it is facing (McClanahan and Muthiga 1998, McClanahan 1999, 2000, 2001).Designing Effective Marine ReservesGlovers Reef was chosen as an ideal site for a marine reserve in the 1970’s due to the complex and diverse reef system. In1993, Glovers Reef marine reserve was established and became the platform for future studies investigating the efficiency of marine reserves. The reserve has four management zones, the general use zone, the conservation zone, the seasonal closure zone and the wilderness zone (For more information see Marine reserve). Guidelines have been developed for each zone to regulate the entry and use of each area by people. The unique opportunity Glovers Reef marine reserve provides has resulted in research projects investigating the effect of marine reserves on commercially important species like the spiny lobster and Nassau grouper, as well as the structuring of the fish-coral interactions within the reef systems. Research has suggested that conservation of multiple habitat types is essential for maintaining species richness and has emphasized a need for scale-dependent planning in marine reserves. The research occurring at Glovers Reef has also resulted in a major accomplishment for WCS’s goal in developing effective policies. With the necessary scientific research, WCS, with the help of many in Belize, were successful in getting legislation passed to close Nassau Grouper spawning sites to fishing year round as well as establish a period of closed season on fishing. This was a major step towards ensuring survival and conservation of this species and only highlights one of the many accomplishments of WCS staff and researchers at Glovers Reef. Looking forward to the future, WCS plans to continue researching the effectiveness of Glovers Reef marine reserve and plans to use cutting edge technology including telemetry, remote sensing/GIS, and genetics, to overcome some of the potential conservation gaps in the design of marine reserves. Management Training and EducationA vital component of WCS’s involvement in Belize is its strong ties with the Government of Belize. Apart from just generating scientific data, it is the goal of WCS to share the marine conservation work that occurs at the station with government officials, students, as well as the public. One aspect of WCS’ contribution to Belize is to provide data relevant to the policy and decision making processes for the marine reserve and conservation in general. In addition, another approach WCS takes is providing marine ecology classes and training in marine protected area management to government officials and local or foreign students.

Copyright 2007 by Wildlife Conservation Society

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