Belize is well known for its vibrant marine life, with divers from around the world flocking to the nation so they can explore the underwater realm. Â Now students from three of Ambergris CayeÂs schools have enjoyed an outing where they were able to come face-to-face with sharks. Â It is an important part of education, and has offered many kids, who have never been out on the reefs, the chance to discover an entirely new environment.
As part of the Kids Meet Shark Program, youngsters from Ambergris Caye, Belize, were invited to join a program to build awareness around sharks. Â Headed by the Caribbean and Gulf Rays and Shark Program of the Wild Life Conservation SocietyÂs director, Dr. Rachel Graham, it was a chance for children to learn about the important role sharks play in the underwater ecosystem.
The event was first started in 2011, when Dr. Graham won a monetary award and used it to inspire the younger generation.Â The event also received funding from the Whitley Fund for Nature,Â and Dr Graham said: ÂThroughout the past few years, we have been taking children from Punta Gorda, Chunux, Sarteneja, Caye Caulker and now San Pedro Town. Â Amazingly, the San Pedro kids, you would think, they have all spent time at the reef or swum with the sharks and rays but they havenÂt.Â Â Dr. Graham revealed that the event gives them the perfect opportunity to become scientists for the day and experience something like never before.
As part of the event, around 75 pupils from La Isla Bonita Elementary School, Ambergris Caye Elementary School and The Island Academy were introduced to sharks over two days. Â Kemre Rippon, a student from The Island Academy, said: ÂIt was amazing to see all those sharks because the last time I came to Shark Ray Alley, I was afraid.Â Â He added that having seen the presentations, he is no longer scared of the sharks, revealing that it was amazing to be in the water with all the wild animals.
With the event being a great success, it is hoped that the program will carry on for many years, helping youngsters to understand the importance of sharks and the role they play in the environment.