Leadership Profile

What's Happening at Cedar Crest College

Studying in Belize: A Student's Perspective

Cedar Crest College faculty and students have been undertaking a research project involving the sustainability of the Queen Conch in Belize for the last six years led by John Cigliano, associate professor of biology, and Rich Kliman, professor of biology. This is the final in a series of short articles written by Kenzie Bickhart, a senior biodiversity and conservation biology major, who participated in the research project in August.

This week was filled with some of the best food, including fresh fish almost every day. One morning, Yogi, our chauffeur on the water, came back with a huge barracuda. I have to say that barracuda is my new favorite fish! We also had fresh fruit with almost every meal, whether it was plantains, pineapple, or watermelon.

Kaleigh Fernald and Kenzie Bickhart on the beach with a friend.
Kaleigh Fernald and Kenzie Bickhart on the beach with a friend.

The juices were amazing. There was lime, star fruit and plum, watermelon, and pineapple at some point during the week. We learned not to show up to a restaurant too hungry: it usually took at least an hour for your food to arrive, but it was always worth the wait.

Leaving Lime Caye, the island where we spent the week, was a little bittersweet. The people I had the pleasure of working with were wonderful–our team just clicked. We had a lot of fun out of the water as well.

Once we returned to the mainland, a group of us went to Mayan ruins at Lubaantun. This was a really cool experience and I enjoyed being immersed in another culture for an hour or two and walking on a piece of history. We saw temples where the rulers were buried and the ball courts where the people would watch as athletes competed. It made up for having to leave the reserve.
As for the future of the conch in Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve, Dr. Cigliano and Dr. Kliman seem optimistic. They feel that there will be a whole reserve effect–meaning that both the no-take and general use zones will achieve the same beneficial results. This is mainly because most of the fishermen have changed livelihoods and they aren’t fishing conch in any part of the reserve any longer. Some have started giving fishing tours while others have taken up other jobs back on the mainland.

I hope to return some day and see the positive changes that this reserve has made on the conch populations.

At the Mayan ruins.
At the Mayan ruins.