The Catlin Seaview Survey has arrived in Belize to survey sites along the Mesoamerican Reef. Like the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Mesoamerican Reef protects homes along the coast from the battering power of the ocean, provides food and jobs for the people of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition, it is home to the tiger shark and holds an incredibly diverse array of coral and fish.
We have picked over 40 different sites to survey along the entire 690 kilometres of the Mesoamerican Reef. The sites have been chosen to record the greatest range of reef structures, environmental influences and to supplement data collected by other marine biologists in the same area.
- reefs close to the coast (and development) to isolated island atolls
- exposed reefs pounded by the ocean and high winds to reefs protected by a bay or lagoon
- reefs that have been previously studied (Smithsonian) to reefs that have, until now, been overlooked by scientific studies
- reefs of high fish diversity to reefs that are have not been recorded
In this way, an accurate picture can be drawn of the Mesoamerican Reef and data can be compared to the Great Barrier Reef (2700 kilometres), which was surveyed by the Catlin Seaview Survey in 2012.
Although the Mesoamerican Reef has been well documented by marine biologists, the Catlin Seaview Survey will capture the reef in greater resolution and over greater spatial scales than ever before. This will provide the most comprehensive baseline of the Mesoamerican Reef to date, which will be used to encourage scientific collaboration, positive conservation efforts and educate the general public about the underwater diversity in this area.