According to this article on the New York Aquarium website, Belize passed two new laws in 2009 in order to increase protections for their world class coral reefs and the reef fish species that are symbiotically linked to them, such as this queen parrotfish “smiling” for the camera in this underwater photo taken just off shore from our Adventure Island on Long Caye. underwater photos queen parrotfish

“Belize is giving its beleaguered parrotfish, Nassau grouper, and other reef fish a chance to recover from years of overfishing. The national government and minister of agriculture and fisheries signed a sweeping set of new laws to protect the country’s extensive coral reefs, considered to be the most pristine in the Western Hemisphere.

Research by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) helped lay the groundwork for the laws, which set a new standard for coral reef protection in the Caribbean. The first of the new laws will protect parrotfish and other grazers, such as doctor and surgeonfish. These herbivores keep algae growth in check, enabling corals to flourish. In the past, fisherman did not target the grazing fish; rather, they caught mainly snappers and groupers. It was only when these species declined that they turned to the next tier of the food web, and parrotfish began to disappear.

WCS research from Glover’s Reef show that parrotfish are now the most commonly caught fish on this part of the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System. As a consequence, coral cover has declined. Marine researchers expect that the new laws protecting parrotfish and other grazers will help the corals recover.”

To anyone who has spent time on our island, this will read as a bit of an understatement, but for those of you who have yet to experience the unique underwater reef environment at Glover’s Atoll, let it be said that it holds many rare and surprising creatures.

For example, according to this 1973 scientific paper in Copiea, the journal of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, 20 individual specimens of an entirely new species of toadfishTriathalassothia gloverensis, were discovered at Glover’s Reef.

Obviously, adventure sports is the main stay of life on the island, but don’t underestimate the attraction of learning about the many strange and fascinating creatures that live there. After a day of surfing, kiteboarding, and kayaking, there’s plenty of talk around the dinner table about catching big air and the longest ride of the day, but one of the biggest surprises to me during my visit was how excited everyone was to dig into the numerous books available on tropical sea life and learn the “sport” of fish identification.

Of course, when you spend your day staring down someone as handsome as this guy, it’s no wonder everyone gets excited.