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Nov 12, 1998

Reef exhibit opens at S.J.C

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The St. John’s College Gym always seems to be transforming into something new, one night it is a dance hall filled with balloons, the next week it is a sea of proud graduates, who are quickly replaced by booths featuring the products of various businesses. But this week, the S.J.C. Gym has being turned into a submarine of sorts taking visitors below sea level into a world only a lucky few get to see first hand. News Five was there for the opening of this watery world.

Our beautiful coral reef is one of our most valued resources. This is why the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the Belize Audubon Society saw it fit to conduct an exhibition which will educate and make everyone who attends the exhibition more aware of our marine life and what it has to offer. Janie Wulff told us more about the Smithsonian Institute and the purpose of the exhibition.

Janie Wulff, Author, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

“The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute developed this exhibition, “Our Caribbean Connections”. The purpose of the exhibit is to travel the Caribbean explaining, what corals and coral reefs and their associated systems are and giving information about their biology and history.”

Students and teachers were rather enthusiastic about this morning’s event.

Karan Sabnani, Student, Belize Elementary School

“We feel like it is very educational. We get to learn more about the coral, the fishes and the barrier reef.”

Andrew Zabaneh, Student, Belize Elementary School

“It shows us the importance of the coral reef to us which brings us a lot of money to the economy and the tourism industry.”

Students of St. John’s Junior College performed a dance depicting the reef at the opening this morning.

William Neal, Science Teacher, Belize Elementary School

“What we’re hoping is that this will be a nice intro to a science project we hope to do this year. We’re looking at coastal zone management and the impact of the reef, mangroves on the coastline on Belize. So we’re trying to get ideas how we can improve our presentation.”

While everything might look picture perfect to us, it not quite like that.

Hyacinth Latchman

“It’s not only things we do at sea that affect our reef but what we do on land can cause just as much damage.”

Michael Sommerville, Environmental Coordinator

“Chemicals can come from industries that pours out and pollutes our water ways. It can come from fertilizers run-off. Many aquatic organisms are not resistant to these chemicals. As a result they die. Apart from that we’re looking at over-harvesting of our resources. Our fishermen maybe five years ago used to catch conch in abundance. Today he can count them on his finger. They have over-fished these resources in the first place.”

Our reef is of critical importance to humans. It acts as a storm barrier to protect our coastlines and harbors and houses many of our important marine life. While Belize can boast on having the longest continuous chain of living coral reef in the world, if we don’t take care of it we may lose this fragile resource. Hyacinth Latchman for News Five.

“Our Reefs: Caribbean Connections” will be at the S.J.C. Gym through December eighteenth. It will then move to Belmopan for a run at the Archaeology Museum for the month of January and then head north to the Corozal Civic Center in February.

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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