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Nov 27, 2018

Commonwealth Marine Economies Programme

For the past five weeks, a group of environmentalists have been participating in the Commonwealth Marine Economies Programme. The team from the National Oceanography Centre is in Belize taking samples from the rivers and waterways to determine whether higher levels of carbon dioxide being deposited into the Caribbean Sea is negatively affecting the barrier reef.  To do that, the team has brought in high-tech equipment, an autonomous boat, which is being used to collect the sample, while adhering to maritime laws. PhD student at the National Oceanography Centre in the United Kingdom, Sarah Cryer says that the data collected will then be passed on to respective governments and N.G.O.s.

 

Sarah Cryer

Sarah Cryer, PhD Student, National Oceanography Center

“We started off in the rivers, taking water samples and then down in the marine environment. And then we changed over to an autonomous boat, which is a yellow boat, attached with sensors and it can survey the marine environment looking at things like temperature, but also looking at what’s on the seafloor and mapping the habitat.”

 

Duane Moody

“What’s the mission?”

 

Sarah Cryer

“So the main mission is to see what changes occurring in the Belize River catchment, is it having an effect on the water chemistry in the Belize River and the water chemistry that’s then entering the marine environment. Does this water chemistry reach the reef and are the corals being affected by what’s changing inland. The reef is an important environment not only for the corals and the fish, the ecologically important, but socially and economically important for fisheries, for tourism and it might be the changes inland that are affecting the coral reef.

All the data we collect with the freely available because we publicly funded by the U.K. Government. So the data will be handed over to the coastal zone, the University of Belize and we hope that we will get scientific publications out of the data that we collect.”

 

Duane Moody

“How has it been so far? What is some of the data that you have collected and what is it showing?”

 

Sarah Cryer

“Just from yesterday, we went into the mouth of the Belize River with the autonomous boat attached with CO2 sensors and we found a very high dissolved CO2 in the mouth of the river which is suggesting that the Belize River is a source of CO2 to the marine environment. It will take more time to interpret the rest of the data to see is that CO2 reaching to the coral reefs, but we are seeing that there is an impact of the Belize River on the marine environment, what that effect is and how far it goes yet.”


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