The island where we stayed had a small eco-resort, a fishing house, and a few private homes. During our trip, I learned a lot from the resident divemaster, Elvis. Like nearly 50 percent of the Belizean people, his livelihood comes from the reef, so he dedicates himself to reef protection, including making the resort as eco-friendly as possible.
We don’t always think of the impact our travels have on the planet. Because the Long Caye is a small island in the middle of the ocean, consumption is conscious— a “pack it in, pack it out” mentality. Water is sourced from collected rainwater, toilets compost waste, and solar panels power the island.
Living off-the-grid was a wonderful experience. Disconnecting from society while spending my days in the underwater jungle helped me reconnect with what matters most: our planet.
The ecosystem on the atoll was thriving, but that isn’t always the case elsewhere. High temperatures, overfishing, and pollution bleach rainbow reefs into skeletal graveyards. Fish populations are dwindling. Sharks and whales are disappearing.
Not everyone can or wants to dive 80 feet into the ocean or swim within arm’s length of a shark, but everyone has some connection to the ocean. It is within our power to restore our great coral reefs, but now is the time for action. Marine Protected Areas are a great place to start. Biden's executive order to protect 30 percent of our oceans by 2030 is a major step in the right direction for protecting our coral reefs and ocean ecosystems. If we all fight for ocean conservation and fair fishing practices, we can hope to see pristine marine landscapes like that of the Belize Barrier Reef for generations to come.