Educational Activities

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

Experiential field programs in Marine Environmental Science are tailored by TCMS to meet each group’s learning objectives and syllabus. We work with each group to design a learning curriculum and itinerary that best suits their educational needs and special interests through a combination of fieldwork and lectures. We also serve as facilitators supporting visiting teachers and other group leaders. Our programs build an awareness of marine habitats (coral, mangrove and seagrass) through 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 (see list below).

Students are equipped with well-maintained snorkel gear, including underwater flashlights, and have full access to all the station resources. Accommodations and meals are provided in oceanside cabanas.

Find full descriptions of our various activities and budget your trip using our list of services and cost calculator:
TCMS Services 2018
TCMS Cost Calculator

Snorkeling activities include:

  • Mandatory introduction to Snorkelling
  • Night Snorkelling 
  • Mangrove and Patch Reef Snorkelling
  • Fore-reef Snorkelling (weather permitting)
  • Smithsonian’s Western Caribbean Marine Station
  • Man O’War Caye Bird Sanctuary
  • Manatee watching
  • Glover’s Atoll

  • Marine Hazards in Belize
  • Fisheries Conservation and Marine Protected Areas
  • Mangrove, Seagrass, Reef: Ecosystems and Relationships
  • Introduction to Coral Reefs, Response to a Changing Environment
  • Reef Conservation & Artificial Reefs
  • Fish Identification (12+ fish families and 80+ key species)
  • Common Fish Families
  • Fish Biology: An Aid to Identification
  • The Scientist and the Environmentalist: How they Work Together
  • The Scientific Method: A Critical Thinking Approach


  • Water table
  • Microscopes (Compound and Dissecting)
  • Transects and Quadrats
  • Slates
  • Coring Samplers
  • Plankton Towing Nets
  • TCS, pH, Ammonia Metres
  • Current Metres
  • Niskin Bottle and Secchi Disks
  • U/W Video and Still Cameras

  • 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)

Tropical Marine EcologyTropical Marine Ecology (Belize)


We highly recommend that students and teachers get a copy of this field guide created by the station managers.

This book is designed to introduce students to basic concepts of tropical marine ecology, while specifically addressing issues relevant to Belize. No prior knowledge of marine biology or related subjects is assumed. References and case studies at the end of each chapter encourage readers to delve further into topics in accordance with their specific interests, knowledge and experience.