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Aug 24, 2018

Exploring Half Moon Caye

It is the furthest island point east of mainland Belize and the country’s oldest protected wildlife site that is famous for diving and birding. Half Moon Caye Natural Monument of Lighthouse Reef Atoll is located fifty-five miles east of Belize City and is known as the home of the boobies. It attracts thousands of tourists each year, but not enough Belizeans go to experience the natural, pristine beauty that is Half Moon Caye.  Reporter Andrea Polanco and cameraman Joel Wesbey went to experience the caye and to learn about some of the conservation efforts being led by co-manager Belize Audubon Society. In this first part of our series, we take a look the Half Moon Caye and its unique offerings.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

The Half Moon Caye Natural Monument was designated a protected a site in 1982 and is part of the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System World Heritage Site. With its white, sandy beaches and some of the bluest waters, this caye is more than just a hot spot on a tourist’s stop. It’s known for its rich bio-diversity with forested parts of the island that serve as valuable habitat for species of birds and reptiles. From its resident ambassadors the booby birds, to the regular army of hermit crabs. And it is here on this caye, where the only population of the island leaf-toed gecko is found for the entire world.


Shane Young

Shane Young, Marine Protected Areas Manager, BAS

“The Island is unique. It is home to the white phase red-footed boobie birds. It is also serves as a nesting ground for three marine turtle species – the logger head, hawksbill and the green turtles. It is also home to the island leaf-toed gecko – an endemic species.”


Forty-one and a half acres of Half Moon Caye and just under ten acres of surrounding waters, are all protected. The Belize Audubon Society co-manages the Caye and here they lead research and other valuable conservation efforts, including the monitoring of the endangered sea turtles.


Shane Young

“We do carry out research and monitoring, as well. We carry out conch and lobster density surveys. We carry out coral health survey.  We also carry out sea grass surveys. We also monitor the boobie birds, as well. We also monitor the turtle nesting activities that occur on this island.”


And while there is a lot to see and do on the caye, the surrounding waters make for an equally exciting and fulfilling experience. Just beyond the shoreline, there is the half-moon caye wall – arguably one of the best dive and snorkel sites in all of Belize which is described as “six thousand feet of vertical abyss”.  Below the pristine hues of blues, there is an entire marine world thriving.  The diversity in marine life – from turtles, to sharks to rays and fish – is complemented with some of the most colorful, living coral and sponge formations.

Every year, around fourteen thousand international visitors visit the Half Moon Caye Natural Monument. Belizeans – not so many. And that is why manager Shane Young says they want to see more locals experience the beauty of Belize right here at the Half Moon Caye Natural Monument.


Shane Young

“We have visitation from foreigners. There is a lot of diving that is being done at Half Moon Caye Wall. I think it is one of the best dive sites in this country. I highly recommend that you try it if you are an avid diver.  In terms of Belizeans, I am hoping that we can get more Belizeans out here. This is the farthest land point for this country. If you look to the east, that is international waters. It is breath-taking. It is really breathtaking. I encourage Belizeans. I urge Belizeans to take the opportunity to come and visit. Keep in mind that the Great Blue Hole, the famous Blue Hole, also managed by the Belize Audubon Society, is only eight miles away.”


Andrea Polanco

“So, you can do both [sites] in one day?”


Shane Young

“Yes. You could do two in one day.”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.


Another part of this story will be aired next week.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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