The Astrum helicopter company launches from a base less than five miles from where Belize City meets the Caribbean. In the backseat, to my left, is Belizean Senator Valerie Woods. Across from us are two representatives from international ocean protection organization Oceana, which organized the flight. The country’s minister of state, Carla Barnett, climbs into the front seat.
“I haven’t been in a helicopter for a long time,” she mutters, pulling on her headset. The doors shut, and we’re off.
As we rise above the trees, Belize City starts to spread out in front of us. But that’s not our destination. Side-skirting downtown, we head out over the water—where the true treasures lay.
The Mesoamerican Reef stretches some 700 miles from Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula through Guatemala, to Honduras’ Bay Islands. For 184.5 miles, the reef passes through Belizean waters. Along with the lagoons and atolls on either side of the main reef, the collection is known as the “Belize Barrier Reef System.”
Photo: Claude Piché/Unsplash