Friday, November 26, 2010


November 26, 2010

Oceana’s Board of Directors first ever international meeting in Belize will see participation of many internationally known figures. The meeting will take place December 6 to 9th 2010.

Internationally recognized Actor, best known in Belize for his role in the sitcom Cheers and now HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, is among the over 15 board members who will be visiting Belize for the first time.

As part of the series of events, Board members will be making courtesy calls on Prime Minister Hon. Dean Barrow, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Rene Montero and Leader of the Opposition Johnny Briceño.

The working session of the meeting will be held in San Pedro, where the board will be approving its global strategy and budget for 2011 and learning more about the pressing marine issues in Belize. While in San Pedro the Board will take time out to meet with members of the San Pedro Town Council and visit local tourist spots. Mayor Elsa Paz, who has been supportive of Oceana’s policies along with the Town Councilors, will be hosting the Board members at a cocktail party at which Minister of Tourism; Manuel Heredia will be the guest of honour.

A highlight of the Board’s visit to in Belize is the public forum at the Bliss Institute on December 8, 2010 at 5 pm. The theme of this presentation which is open to the Belizean public free of cost is “Learning from the US Oil Disasters – Can this be us?” The key presenter will be marine scientist Dr. Jeff Short, who has worked and researched the Exxon Valdez oil disaster in Alaska and the recent BP Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Also presenting at this event is Oceana’s very own founding member and marine advocate Ted Danson who has testified before the US Senate about the dangers of offshore oil exploration and drilling. Danson has used his internationally recognized status as a famous actor to educate people around the world about marine issues affecting humanity globally.

Other well known board members in attendance will be the former President of Columbia and former Secretary General of the OAS, César Gaviria and Oceana’s chairperson, Kristian Parker from the Swiss-based OAK Foundation. Members of the Board of Directors come from a variety of backgrounds such as Europe and North and South America.

Oceana’s CEO Andy Sharpless says he is most pleased with the decision to host its final board meeting for 2010 in Belize as this is the most recent office opened by the organization as it expands its reach globally. “Mayor Paz is a friend of Oceana and we are more than delighted to be taking our event to her island as it helps to bring recognition to the importance of Belize’s Barrier Reef and the threats it faces by unsustainable human activity.”

For Further information contact:

Audrey Matura-Shepherd at 610-0702 or 227-2704/05 or

ACES Crocodile Chronicles

Submitted by Cherie Chenot-Rose, ACES Biologist

Croc Crusaders
You’re never too young to rescue crocodiles as young Alexis learned when he assisted ACES (American Crocodile Education Sanctuary) in the rescue and re-release of a four month old baby crocodile named “Larry” that he helped save. Baby crocs up to a year old are called “hatchlings,” explained Cherie Chenot-Rose, Biologist, as she and Animal Behaviorist Vince Rose informed Alexis about these threatened and protected modern day dinosaurs.

When "Larry" was first confiscated from someone who was trying to illegally sell him, the ACES team took the opportunity to teach neighborhood children about the endangered croc.

Larry was malnourished and dehydrated.
In poor health it was uncertain if the hatchling would survive.

After much nurturing Larry makes a full recovery and is ready to re-released into the wild.

Vince shows Alexis how to properly release the animal.

On this particular rainy day release on Nov. 19th, Vince decided to show Alexis how to properly handle the baby croc, and let him assist in re-releasing the baby croc he was instrumental in saving. When “Larry” was first rescued he was close to starvation and had to be forced fed twice and given vitamins before the little croc began eating on its own. When a Crocodilian is severely stressed, they will often refuse to eat. Crocs as large as 10 feet in length have been know to actually starve to death when subjected to high stress. This severe stress is usually due to improper husbandry, or care, and handling.

Baby croc Larry was lucky when Alexis properly and promptly contacted ACES and let them do their job. Now, a few months later, Larry is healthy, tagged and swimming free. “What most people do not realize is that less than 1% of the eggs in a crocodile’s nest will hatch and grow to reach a size at which they can reproduce, or sexual maturity,” states Chenot-Rose. Although the exact croc population on Ambergris Caye is currently undetermined, it is a know fact in the scientific community that it is the last stronghold for this keystone species.

ACES in Action
ACES has been busier than ever, with two other successful re-releases last weekend. “Crocoberry”, a 7 ft. 7” problematic male croc was rescued from the residence of Mr. & Mrs. Castleberry in San Pablo where he had taken up residence sunbathing in their canal-side backyard. The Castleberry’s had contacted ACES about their unwanted croc and treated the ACES team to a home cooked meal (complete with Wayne’s birthday cake) and cinnamon rolls to go in appreciation of their assistance.

The following day the team was called upon to relocate “Sampson,” an 8ft male croc, from the DFC area. “This was the most rewarding croc rescue so far,” stated Vince, “due to the tremendous amount of support and assistance from the DFC community.” Sampson’s rescue took 5 hours as he was extremely crafty at eluding croc wrangler Vince, who fearlessly crawled under houses in waist-deep waters in the dark. Finally lassoing Sampson, Vince found the croc to be a tagged ACES croc, proving that Sampson is a returning, problematic croc. Sampson was re-released for his final time. If captured again as a problematic animal, Sampson’s fate may be death. With nowhere else to place him, ACES and the Belize Forest Department cannot take the chance of him harming more pets or even worse, possibly a child.

This neighbor was happy to have "Sampson" removed from underneath his house.

Crocs on Ambergris
ACES is currently conducting a croc population survey and size distribution on Ambergris Caye. “Although no grants have come through yet to fund our efforts we just can’t sit still, so we’re taking the opportunity to collect pertinent data during rescues,” states Cherie. Vince and Cherie have collected scientific data on all of the problem crocs being relocated as well as collecting date while conducting croc “eye-shine” surveys. The animals are humanly captured; data such as size, sex and general health are recorded, then tagged and released. When rescuing crocs, such as the previously tagged one from the DFC area, the information collected will allow ACES to write an extremely needed Crocodile Conservation Plan for the island and present their findings to the Belize Forest Dept.

While still waiting for a reply from various grant applications, including PACT, ACES really wishes they had a hand held GPS to be able to collect accurate sighting and croc locations. Regardless, the croc population study will continue. Vince and Cherie are overwhelmed at the respect and participation of all the local Croc Crusaders on Ambergris Caye and stated that this support is what motivates them to continue to move forward.

For more information about ACES or to report a problem croc please call 666-3871 or

ACES's mission is commitment to conserving Belize's critical habitats and protected species through scientific research and education to prevent further extinction of species Worldwide and to preserve Belize's wildlife for future generations.

Samuel Figueroa competes with the Belize National U20 Selection in Honduras.

San Pedro Resident and Athlete, Samuel Figueroa has joined the ranks of the professionals as a member of the Belize National under 20 Selection Football team. According to president of the Football Federation of Belize, Dr. Chimilio, coaches have been scouting players across the country through the year.

Samuel caught the eye of a scout for the national selection in September when he was competing in an inter-district tournament in Belize City, and was drafted immediately. According to Mr. Chimilio, Mr. Figueroa exhibited much talent and lots of potential. He has since been vigorously practicing with the national selection team, in Belmopan.

The Belize National under 20 Selection; comprised of 18 players will travel to El Salvador for two games in the qualifying games, leading up to the finals to be held in Guatemala in March of 2011. The team will be in Honduras for a week, where they will square off against El Salvador’s Selection on December 1st and Honduras’ selection on December 5th; both games will be played in La Ceiba Honduras.

The San Pedro Sun congratulates Samuel Figueroa and the Belize National under 20 Selection and wish them well in the up coming games.