Early this summer, 16 Ellesmere College students travelled to Belize, in the Caribbean, to work alongside marine biologists in a unique study of the lion-fish population as well as underwater surveys, studying other aquatic species and supporting the scientists on the island.
The project is based on a remote island off the Belize coastline and Ellesmere College is the only British school to have visited it with the students working alongside the scientists gaining first-hand experience in the practices of marine biology. The team of scientists have been stationed on the island for some time and are measuring data on the fluctuation of marine species including coral and fish, including the management of the lion-fish population. During their work, the students also studied bird populations in the mangroves were also lucky enough to see a range of marine species including dolphins, lobsters, rays, sharks, and even the elusive manatee!
The lion-fish project is of critical importance to the delicately balanced Caribbean marine ecosystem - they are not an indigenous species - as their population is spiraling out of control. They are very voracious and have no natural predators, posing a great threat to the local fish stocks, so their numbers have to be monitored and recorded for the project on a daily basis.
The students were also faced with the unfortunate and shocking effects of plastic pollution on the Caribbean coastline, and although most tourist beaches are cleaned daily, the students experienced how bad the plastic pollution truly was on a stretch of the natural coastline. Mr. Williams commented, "I cannot stress enough how shocked I was about how bad the plastic pollution is on the beaches here." So part of the role of the students was to also clean parts of the beach of plastic and other waste on a daily basis - a very real lesson in how severe the environmental impact of plastic is and encouraged the students to discuss the effects of pollution and how they could minimise it at home or school.
Although living on the beach in cabanas appears ideal, the students had a large amount of other daily commitments such as raking the beach to kill sand flies, cooking for the team and cleaning. The group found it particularly liberating to have no network coverage, and they would use their spare time in order to relax, play cards, chat, and have spontaneous games of cricket and volleyball!
Mr. Williams said, "I feel very privileged to have taken this group of students and hope that the real world problems they encountered will encourage them all to share their experiences and consider the ways in which we can minimise our impact on the environment in the future. I would like to thank the scientific team and camp staff for their support and allowing us to share this unique experience with them."
The Ellesmere College team included the following students and staff:
- Charlie Anne Williams - Jack Pochin - Lavinia Mottershead - Aaron Davis - Sophie Ward - Ronnan Phillips - Maddie Freer-Carmichael - Toby Freer-Carmichael - Camilla Broster - Zak Lennox - Alanah O'Brien - James Knowells - Mimi Roberts - Harry Hudson - Emily Ashley - Scott Faulkner - Mr Ian Williams.
For more information on the Leadership and Co-Curricular opportunities at Ellesmere College, please visit: Leadership and Employability.
Images Courtesy of Tony Ellis Photography
16th September 2019 Back to News