Marine Biology and Community Health Courses in Belize and Ecuador

At Ceiba we pride ourselves in offering world-class study abroad opportunities for university students from the USA, Canada, and indeed around the world.  Our flagship program is the Tropical Conservation Semester, which runs in Ecuador each spring.  But not everybody can go overseas for a full semester, so we also offer intensive summer programs in both Ecuador and Belize.

This year, Catherine and Joe led a Marine Biology course to Belize in June while a new member of Ceiba’s instructional staff, microbiologist Mauricio Lascano took the reins of the popular Water For Life: Sustainability and Community Health on the coast of Ecuador.  Eighteen students joined the Marine Biology program, where we toured the mainland of Belize for several days of visiting Mayan ruins, caves, and rainforests before heading 40 km offshore to the world-famous Glovers Reef Marine Reserve.  There, students carried out coral reef research on subjects as diverse as Damselfish territories, Queen Conch abundance, diseases of hard and soft corals, residents of tube sponges, and measuring seagrass grazing rates.

Back in Ecuador, students from the University of Wisconsin spent two weeks assessing water quality in streams, wells, and municipal supplies on the coast near the Lalo Loor Reserve.  Lecture content focused on water-borne diseases, how water quality affects community health, and what can be done on national and local levels to improve access to clean drinking water.  After a few days of getting settled, students conducted short research projects to gain practical fieldwork abilities, and shed additional light on the complex problems they had been studying.  Along the way, forest hikes yielded views of monkeys and parrots, while seaside visits allowed the group to enjoy Ecuador’s spectacular beaches while getting to know some of the local fishing villages.

As the calendar turns to the month of July, all the courses returned home safe and sound, with students sunburned but smiling.  There’s nothing like a study abroad experience to broaden your horizons, gain hands-on skills, and boost you appreciation for education and the application of classroom learning to the real world.  Find out more about Ceiba’s study abroad options here, and maybe we’ll see you in Ecuador or Belize next year!