Marine Science and Research
Tobacco Caye is one of the very few islands that are situated directly on the Belize Barrier Reef. This makes the island an ideal location for study and research of the marine environment, as access to the reef and its associated habitats are easily accessible from the shore of the island. More diverse habitats are just a short boat ride away, enabling us to focus on our mission of education, training, public service and scholarly research.
TCMS is a marine-based research and education centre that offers immersive learning programs and training opportunities for groups from various organizations including universities, colleges, high schools, and elementary schools. Our goal is to educate while serving as a model of conservation.
The mission of Tobacco Caye Marine Station is to provide experiential learning education programs for students of all ages and nationalities, training of local community members, public service and the support and conduct of scholarly research in the marine sciences, including documentation and preservation of the Belize Barrier Reef’s marine biodiversity and ecosystems. Through the implementation of environmentally sound technologies we are:
- Dedicated to meet the needs of students from Belize and around the world;
- Working to empower local community members to participate in conservation activities to sustain livelihoods through restoration, protection, policy recommendations and co-management of South Water Caye Marine Reserve by helping to develop their skills, knowledge and values necessary for the integrated management of Belize’s marine resources; and
- Providing support and conducting scientific research work, either independently or in collaboration with other researchers or laboratories. The insights gained by this education, training, and research is widely disseminated through publications and public presentations, thus contributing to the increase and diffusion of knowledge of coral reefs and their associated ecosystems, and enabling policy makers to make better informed environmental decisions in guiding conservation and sustainable management of Belize’s marine resources.
Mathilde received her Master’s degree in Oceanography and Marine Biology from UPMC-Sorbonne. She conducted research in Taiwan on coral reef ecology and on the recovery of tropical habitats after disturbances. She also studied ecotoxicology in the Norwegian Arctic, and performed underwater biological assessments on coral, fish and seagrasses in Belize. She is a certified CMAS 3* diver (PADI Divemaster equivalent).
After progressive management positions with the Government of Canada, Michael spent the last five years as a coastal and ocean resource advisor to governments and NGOs in the Pacific and Caribbean. He has trained students in underwater surveying, taught graduate classes in GIS, and lectured on climate change. He holds a Master’s degree in Marine Management, is a PADI dive instructor and a blue-water sailor.
As managers of Tobacco Caye Marine Station, Michael and Mathilde offer field-based experiential education programs on the tropical marine ecology of Belize and the wider Caribbean to local and international groups from middle school to post-graduate level.