MarAlliance Helps Protect a Shark Superhighway

MarAlliance’s incredible work to protect the Mesoamerican Reef was recently featured on CNN’s Call to Earth. This extensive barrier reef system is the second largest in the world, stretching over 600 miles along the coasts of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras. It’s an important ecosystem and migration corridor for all sorts of marine life, including the Caribbean reef shark, whale sharks, and manta rays.

A reef shark.

But given its size and the rich marine life populations that call it home, the Mesoamerican Reef contains many threats, including overfishing, illegal finning practices, and disruption from commercial development. With more than a third of Earth’s shark and ray species threatened with extinction, protecting this reef ecosystem is critical.

The Mesoamerican Reef is also home to manta rays.

MarAlliance is closely monitoring the status of marine life throughout the Mesoamerican Reef so that this data can be used to inform effective conservation actions and political policy. They have enlisted the help of local fishers for this monitoring effort, since members of fishing communities are out on the ocean every day and know these waters better than anyone. Over 60 local fishers are aiding MarAlliance, who have trained them how to collect data, tag fish of interest, and safely release them back to the waves. By becoming key contributors to MarAlliance’s study, these fishers not only receive an alternate source of income, but also learn how to fish sustainably and the value of a healthy ocean ecosystem.

The MarAlliance team along the coast of Belize.

By changing attitudes about how sharks, rays, and marine ecosystems are treated, MarAlliance is helping save endangered marine life in important areas like the Mesoamerican Reef.

Read the full article here.

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