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Shipstern C&MA lagoon patrols studying water quality and fish in the nature reserve in northern Belize

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Posted: Monday, October 25, 2021. 2:25 pm CST.

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: The Shipstern Conservation & Management Area (Shipstern C&MA) carries out regular lagoon patrols to collect data on water quality and fish in the nature reserve located in the north-eastern tip of Belize in the Corozal District.

“Lagoon patrols are timely carried out to collect data to be analyzed for a better understanding of the natural dynamics of the lagoon system,” says the Shipstern C&MA on social media.

“Weekly, our team of adventurers measure the water levels to understand its deepest and most shallow areas. They also carry out activities at different hours of the day which allows them to effectively manage and increase protection efforts in the lagoon when necessary.”

The objective says the Shipstern C&MA is to eventually be able to complete “a structured and in-depth study and evaluation of water quality and fish assessment”.

The Shipstern C&MA is a protected area established in 1989 as the Shipstern Nature Reserve under the Minister of Natural Resources. It is comprised of a large parcel surrounding the Shipstern Lagoon, and a smaller one, entirely forested area around the Xo-Pol pond, to the West.

In 2012, the Shipstern C&MA was declared a trust in perpetuity for the benefit of the People and Government of Belize, says the Corozal Sustainable Future Initiative (CSFI).

The Shipstern C&MA is home to an array of rare habitats, some of them unique for Belize. The forests have been regenerating since Hurricane Janet ravaged the area in 1955. At Shipstern one can find diverse flora and fauna. Nothing strange to come across peccaries, curassows, and deer in the forests and savannahs. The jaguars and pumas are surely happy to have a variety of prey to munch on. There’s also the Baird’s Tapir, the Keel-billed Toucan, and several species of parrots. You might also find the rare black Catbird. Shipstern is its only known mainland habitat.

Shipstern is the only place in Belize where the medium-sized semi-deciduous Yucatan forest can be found. There’s also the rare Pseudophoenix Yucatan coastal dry forest. This extremely rare forest type in Belize can only be found in four small areas in the whole of the Yucatan Peninsula according to the CSFI.

Not surprising then that the Shipstern C&MA says that along the way, its lagoon patrols “also record all lagoon features, such as islands, birds, sinkholes, mangroves, creeks and all the scaly friends they may encounter”.

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