Field Studies

One of the primary services of the Tobacco Caye Marine Station is education, both for Belizeans and international students.

Experiential field programs in the study of Marine Environmental Science are tailor made by TCMS to a group’s needs. We work with each group to custom design a learning curriculum and program itinerary that best suits their educational needs and special interests through a combination of field-based teaching and a series of lectures. This is achieved by providing exposure to issues of global importance and offering experiences that emphasize the interconnectedness of people and their environment. Also, we serve as program facilitators in support of visiting teachers and other group leaders. Our Experiential Field Programs combine the experience of marine habitats (coral, mangrove and seagrass), with survey techniques, sampling methods, species identification, fish behavioural observations and microscope work back in the laboratory. We offer a classroom-based lecture series to supplement fieldwork from which lectures can be chosen to fit with a group’s educational needs.

Field Study

Field Study

The Marine Station combines as a classroom/training room and a laboratory. The lab runs off of a 24 hour high powered solar system, and is equipped with satellite Internet and laptops, stereo and compound microscopes (complete with a digital camera attachment), a projector and screen, extensive workspace area and power outlets, and a continually expanding collection of resource material. For fieldwork Tobacco Caye Marine Station has its own boat for small research groups, access to two more boats for large groups, snorkelling equipment, underwater flashlights for night work, and sampling equipment (20 and 80 micron plankton nets with a flow meter, corers, sieves and a vertical water sampler), 30m transect tapes, T-bars, quadrats and diving slates.
Guest accommodations and robust meals for the station are provided on site at Tobacco Caye which sits directly on the Barrier Reef. We can accommodates up to 26 participants in seaside cabanas. Fresh prepared meals are served three times daily in the dining room. There is plenty of room for study, relaxation and recreation with hammocks spread throughout the property, a volleyball court, and great snorkelling straight off the dock.

In the class room

Lecture in the Tobacco Caye Marine Station


Our field trips from Tobacco Caye are half-day, full day, or overnight. Locations include but are not limited to:

  • Ecologically varied reef types within the SWCMR
  • Mangrove habitats at Tobacco Range and Twin Cayes
  • Man-O-War Caye (a nesting site for frigates and brown-footed boobies)
  • Smithsonian Institute on Carrie Bow Caye
  • Glover’s Atoll (available as a full day or as an overnight trip) *weather dependant
  • Emily Caye – an impact zone from a cargo ship grounding on the reef
  • Pelican Cayes


To enhance the experiential aspect of our educational programs, we provide opportunities for learning directly in the field and in our laboratory. In and out of the water, the Marine Station’s staff provides instruction and workshops in the following fields of inquiry:

  • Benthic survey techniques
  • Fish survey techniques
  • Various sampling methods
  • Fish and coral identification
  • Habitat biodiversity
  • Microscopic identification of macro-invertebrates and plankton
  • Fish behavioural observations
  • Night-time behavioural observation


TCMS lectures are prepared to advance knowledge of the Belize marine environment, and vary in subject to cater to your group’s academic level and field of interest. Classroom lectures and discussion sessions are presented and facilitated by our Station Manager – a qualified Marine Scientist specialising in reef systems.

Sample Lectures:

  • The Marine Environment of Belize:  An Overview
  • The Marine Environment of Belize:  Mangroves and Seagrass
  • The Marine Environment of Belize:  Coral Reefs
  • Fish Identification and Morphology
  • Stresses, Human Impacts and Conservation Strategies
  • Climate Change
  • Plankton
  • Primary Production and Food Webs
  • Marine Invertebrates