Marine Ecosystems of Belize


Biology 171: Introductory Field Studies in Biology, 2 credits (CRN 20040)
Biology 471: International Field Studies in Biology, 3 credits (CRN 20044)
Biology 571: Advanced Field Studies in Biology, 3 credits (CRN 20042)


For Bio 471: Bio 200 and Bio 290 or Permission of Instructor
For Bio 571: Admission to Graduate Program or Permission of Instructor


A limited number of $400 scholarships are available and will be awarded on a competitive basis.. To be considered eligible for scholarship consideration, applicants must:  be matriculated at CCSU, be enrolled in at least 3 credits of coursework associated with the Course Abroad, have a minimum GPA of 2.50, and not receive tuition remission/waivers.


Heavy fishing, recreational uses, and coastal development have had a tremendous negative impact on marine ecosystems in the Western Hemisphere.  However, the small country of Belize has managed to maintain some of the most pristine coastal marine ecosystems on the planet.  The Belize Barrier Reef, at 260km in length, is the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere and is home to a tremendous variety of reef fish, corals, and other invertebrates.  Several species of sea turtles and rays as well as other large fish species and the endangered Queen Conch reside in the lagoon systems of Belize while coastal mangrove communities present a large diversity of fouling sponges and tunicates as well as the odd looking bat fish and the invasive lion fish.  The coastal waters of Belize have been fished since the time of the Mayans (300 B.C. to 900 A.D.) and although the fisheries remain economically important, tourism has become the main use of the reef and one of the greatest sources of revenue for the country.  The increased tourism along with coastal development, agricultural runoff and sedimentation now pose the greatest threats to the Belize Barrier Reef.  Thankfully the Belizean government has implemented measures to protect the reef and associated systems.  This course will introduce participants to the biology, ecology, and history of reef, lagoon, and mangrove systems of Belize and the current government practices being implemented to manage sustainable uses of the Belize Barrier Reef.  

Participants will spend several hours snorkeling each day discovering the inhabitants of these systems and each evening will conclude with lecture/ discussion on select topics.  The course will run at the Belize Marine Tropical Research and Education Center which has been advancing coral reef education and research for over 20 years.  The facility has a Research Library, Natural History Museum, classrooms, wifi, laboratory, fresh water swimming pool, and a fleet of boats and is staffed by Ph.D. Marine Biologists, a Registered Nurse, Licensed Captains and Licensed Tour Guides.  The class will also visit the mainland sites of Clarissa Falls, the Mayan temple of Xunantunich, St. Herman's Cave, the inland Blue Hole, and the Belize Zoo.

Learning Outcomes for Marine Ecosystems of Belize

Students participating in this course will be able to explain the complexity and interdependency of global events and issues by demonstrating knowledge of world geography (1.1).  Students will value and respect intercultural and global diversity by exhibiting the ability to examine issues objectively and without prejudice (2.3).  Finally, students will act as global citizens by thinking critically and creatively and integrating knowledge of the world (3.1), coping with unfamiliar and challenging settings with resiliency (3.3), and locating information and investigating issues about international topics (3.4).

Registration Information and Program Costs

The cost of the travel program includes round-trip airport transfers in the U.S. and abroad, economy-class international airfare, double- or triple-occupancy accommodations, most meals, and ground transportation and entrance fees to all required site visits. All personal expenses (i.e., medical, souvenirs, laundry, telephone, etc.) are not included.   Course tuition is not included in the Course Abroad program fee.

Fulfillment of the University's International Requirement: 

All credits earned overseas on a CCSU-sponsored study abroad program, including courses offered in conjunction with Course Abroad programs, automatically receive "I Designation" and count toward fulfillment of the University's General Education International Requirement.

Registration Form

Registration Deadline has been extended to October 15, 2013.



$2,625 per person

Travel Dates

December 29 - January  6

Faculty Director

Prof.  Jeremiah Jarrett
Biological Sciences Department
(860) 832-2648

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