Diving into Biodiversity

DSC04287-391x260By WILL FERGUSON Office of Communications and External Relations

Victoria Erb stood in the back of the boat with her classmates and watched three sharks cut through the crystal clear water of Belize’s Great Blue Hole. The senior biology major then did the one thing the vast majority of people in this situation absolutely would not do. She dove in.

Assisted by funding from Wake Forest’s biology department, the Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability (CEES), and the Center for Global Programs and Studies, Erb and 14 of her peers traveled to Belize’s Lighthouse Reef Atoll, part of Belize’s Barrier Reef, to study an estimated 500 species of reef fishes and 86 species of soft and hard corals.

The Blue Hole was one of many stops the students, currently taking the Ecology and Conservation of Coral Reefs class, made during the spring break trip.

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Belize ocean scene

Stretching about 25 miles long and located about 50 miles off the coast of Belize, Lighthouse Reef Atoll is one of the most pristine marine environments in the Caribbean Sea due to its remote location.