Educational Activities

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.

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, dissecting 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 snorkel gear, underwater flashlights for night work, and sampling equipment (20 and 80 micron plankton nets with a flow meter, corers, sieves and a neskin bottle), 30m transect tapes, T-bars, quadrats and diving slates.

Guest accommodations and robust meals are provided on site. We can accommodates up to 30 participants in seaside cabanas. Healthy 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.

Introduction to Snorkelling

We start with a presentation on marine hazards in the classroom followed by the demonstration and fitting of snorkel gear. Participants are taken into calm and shallow water where they are taught essential snorkel skills. Groups that arrive late will do the in-water section the morning after arrival.

Night Snorkelling

A true advantage to the Tobacco Caye location. Step off the dock and into a completely different world of octopi, squid, moray eels, sea stars, crabs and lobsters that come alive at night. Underwater lights are provided, but participants also love our lights-out bioluminescence experience.

Field Trips

Tobacco Range Tour (half day)

This half day trip will take you to Man ’O War Caye Bird Sanctuary, one of the few remaining nesting sites in the Caribbean of the Magnificent Frigate. You will then be able to enjoy snorkelling alongside the roots of the nearby Tobacco Range Mangroves before discovering the richness of the Tobacco Caye Reef. Fortunate groups might spot the resident West Indian Manatees while cruising through the sheltered waters of Tobacco Range.

A Customized Half Day Tour

We offer customized trips to any of the nearby cayes and reefs to meet your requirements.

South Water Reserve Tour (full day)

Spend a full day exploring the South Water Caye Marine Reserve and enjoy snorkelling along various ecosystems including Whale Shoal, South Water Caye Patch Reef, and Tobacco Range Mangroves. The three snorkels in Belize’s largest Marine Protected Area will be completed by a visit to the Smithsonian Institute’s facility on Carrie Bow Caye, and a tour of Man ’O War Caye Bird Sanctuary.

Glover’s Reef Atoll (full day)

Fifteen miles east of the Belize Barrier Reef, over the Caribbean Sea you will discover the waves breaking on Glover’s Reef Atoll, one of only four atolls in the Atlantic. Once through the fringing coral reef you will be surrounded by an incredible turquoise lagoon, filled with lush patch reefs. Participants will explore the fore reefs that drop from the atoll into the abyssal trench. This trip is dependent on calm weather, but offers an impressive day participants will never forget.

 

Lectures

TCMS staff offer lectures on their specialty areas, as well as fundamental marine science topics. Our current list of lectures can be customised to meet particular group needs. With enough lead time, we are happy to work with leaders on new presentation topics.

  • Marine Hazards in Belize
  • The Scientific Method: A Critical Thinking Approach
  • Fish Biology: An Aid to Identification
  • Common Fish Families
  • Fish Identification (12+ fish families and 80+ key species)
  • Coral Identification and Diseases
  • Marine Creature Identification and Ecosystems
  • Introduction to Coral Reefs
  • Importance of Mangroves
  • Coral Reefs: Response to a Changing Environment
  • Climate Change and Hurricanes: Implications to Belize
  • Current State of Marine Science in Belize
  • The Scientist and the Environmentalist: How they Work Together
  • Fisheries Conservation and Marine Protected Areas
  • Dropping Nuclear Bombs on Coral Reefs

The Ecology of Marine Belize

This license fee provides access to the digital version of “The Ecology of Marine Belize”. TCMS’s custom marine curriculum includes a 90 page student handbook and accompanying teacher’s guide.

Library

  • Over 30,000 Fish and Coral Identification photos from SWCMR
  • Plankton Keys
  • Over 7,000 scientific publications and articles
  • Dozens of environmental documentaries and movies
  • Reef Fish Identification Series – paper and interactive editions (Humann & DeLoach)
  • Books on Marine Plants, Plankton, Coral Reefs, Fish Behaviour, and Birds of Belize
  • Textbooks in Oceanography (Thurman, Pipkin, Open University)
  • Textbooks in Marine Biology (Levinton, Castro)