Conch, Lobster and Sea Cucumber

Regular monitoring of Queen conch, Caribbean spiny lobster and ‘Donkey Dung’ sea cucumber is carried out collectively under the Commercial Benthic Species monitoring program. Due to indications of possible overharvesting in recent years in PHMR, the on-going monitoring aims to determine stock levels of commercial benthic species and inform sustainable catch quotas.

Conch Lip Thickness

Queen conch, Lobatus gigas, is a species of high commercial importance in Port Honduras Marine Reserve. It was once abundant throughout the Caribbean, but as a popular seafood dish it has become overfished in much of its range. TIDE's targeted research project is informing the sustainable management of this important fishery.

Sea Turtle

TIDE's community researcher team had the incredible experience of tagging another critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle on 26th August 2015! TIDE of HOPE II will provide important migration data for sea turtles that nest in the Port Honduras Marine Reserve and will enable us to highlight the importance of the coastal beaches and foraging areas for endangered sea turtles.

Seagrass Monitoring

TIDE collects data on both manatee grass (Syringodium filiforme) and turtle grass (Thalassia testudinum) in Port Honduras Marine Reserve (PHMR) by carrying out both diving and snorkelling surveys. Seagrasses are underwater plants that often grow in vast meadows.  They are integral to ecosystems as they provide nurseries, shelter, and a food source for a variety of species such as fish, sea turtles, dugong, manatee, seahorses and crustaceans. Additionally, seagrasses filter waters of sediments, nutrients, and pollutants.

Managed Access

TIDE is working in partnership with The Belize Fisheries Department (BFD), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Belizean fishers, to explore Managed Access as a fisheries management policy for Belize.  Managed Access works by limiting access to General Use Zones within marine reserves by using a licensing system to allow only “traditional fishermen” to fish commercially in the reserve.

Mesoamerican Barrier Reef Health Assessment

TIDE surveys coral reef habitats in Port Honduras Marine Reserve (PHMR) to continually assess the health of the ecosystem by monitoring the effects of nutrient and sediment loading on corals from riverine pollution by monitoring changes in macroalgal cover. Fish biodiversity is also monitored to assess the effectiveness of implementation of fisheries regulations.  Surveys are conducted using the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef Survey (MBRS) protocol with some components of the Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA) annexed to make outputs compatible with data collected in other regions by other organisations in either format. Results are contributed to the Healthy Reefs Initiative Annual Report Card. Each area assessed is given a rating from very good to critical in the Report Card.

Lobster Juvenile Recruitment

The Caribbean Spiny Lobster, Panulirus argus, is an essential fishery product for Port Honduras Marine Reserve (PHMR). It has become crucial to study these crustaceans to develop management practices that will lead to sustainable population density and avoid collapse of the fisheries in the surrounding communities.

Habitat Mapping

TIDE began a habitat-mapping project in Port Honduras Marine Reserve in 2013.

Information from this project will allow us to visualize, question, analyse, and interpret data to understand patterns and trends in the reserve. Using this information we can make accurate estimations of commercial species populations and improve fisheries management.

Goliath Grouper

The Goliath grouper study is being carried out by Science Director, James Foley, and Research Assistant, Marty Alvarez, to determine the current status of Goliath groupers in Port Honduras Marine Reserve (PHMR), Toledo.  Catch data from 2014 was compared with studies conducted by Rachel Graham in 2007-2010 to determine impacts of fishing on Goliath grouper population dynamics, and to inform national policy on this IUCN-listed Critically Endangered species.

Dolphin Baseline

Dolphin research in Port Honduras Marine Reserve (PHMR) has been carried out to establish baseline information on the populations present in the reserve. TIDE gathered information on dolphins in response to Providence Energy’s proposal to conduct seismic and oil exploration in Port Honduras Marine Reserve (PHMR).

Manatee Baseline

ECOSUR Master’s student, Transito Gonzalez Medina, supervised by TIDE science director James Foley, carried out a six-month manatee baseline population study at TIDE to better understand the distribution and movement of manatees in Southern Belize.



TIDE's lionfish research aims to monitor the lionfish invasion in PHMR, determining population dynamics and behaviour in the reserve whilst also instigating effective control methods that can be carried out by the local community. Lionfish (Pterois volitans) are an invasive species that have severely affected native fish populations in the Caribbean. Lionfish are native to the Indo-Pacific oceans and the Red Sea, but have swept through Atlantic and Caribbean waters, from Florida to Brazil, during the past 15 years. 

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