Earthwatch Research on Queen Conch in Belize
The queen conch (Strombus gigas) is an edible marine gastropod found in many
parts of the Caribbean. Since 2006, we (i.e., John Cigliano and Rich Kliman)
have been carrying out population surveys of the species in the Sapodilla Cayes
Marine Reserve (SCMR), located at the southern end of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef.
Enforcement of no-take zones in the reserve began in the spring of 2010. We are
performing a Before-After-Control-Impact (BACI) study to
assess the impact of enforcement on queen conch abundance and age structure. The results
of the BACI study will help Belize Fisheries assess the impact of the SCMR, and the
study will also provide a model for assessing future reserves.
The field work has been funded by the
Earthwatch Institute. Since the
project began, Earthwatch volunteers have provided valuable assistance. They have helped
us survey and tag thousands of conch. In 2010, the year these photos were taken,
we ran two teams: an adult team and a teen team. Two Cedar Crest students
(Sarah Dewey '11 and Brandi Strauch '12) joined the adult team
as field assistants. Photos shown below were provided by Sarah (SD), Brandi (BS),
Rich (RK), and the teen team faciliator, Michael Mao (MM). In 2011, Kaleigh Fernald '12
and Kenzie Bickhart '12 joined one of the teams. We also began running a SCUBA team. In 2012,
Jennifer Schwab '13 and Erin Studer '14 joined one of the teams.