Carrie Bow Cay
Environmental Monitoring System


The National Museum of Natural History operates a marine research laboratory in Belize.  The marine laboratory is located on a 1-acre island, Carrie Bow Cay, located 10 miles offshore on Belize's southern barrier reef (See Map). Considered pristine, the barrier reef ecosystem offers researchers diversity in reef structures, habitat types (coral reefs, mangrove swamps, sea grass communities, open-ocean and deep-sea floor) and animal and plant species.  The Caribbean Coral Reef Ecosystems Program (CCRE), the umbrella program under which Carrie Bow Cay station has operated for 30 years, has produced vital information for comparative studies with other reef ecosystems to assess biodiversity and to correlate environmental factors with biological phenomena and hazards (competition, parasitism, algal blooms, coral bleaching and invertebrate disease).

To support research efforts at the marine laboratory, an environmental monitoring system was established in the summer of 1997.  Unfortunately the system was lost in a devastating fire that destroyed the Carrie Bow Cay research facilities in November 1997.  The marine research laboratory was rebuilt and reopened for scientific research activities in 2001.  As part of the rebuilding effort, a new environmental monitoring system (EMS) was designed and went into operation in September 2000.  The EMS continually monitors real time meteorological (wind speed/direction, solar radiation, rain rate/accumulation, barometric pressure, air temperature, and relative humidity), oceanographic (water level, temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, pH, and turbidity), and system (internal) data (battery voltage and alarm) conditions.  Measurements are taken every ten minutes.

On these pages you will find descriptions of the system, maps of the area and island, present environmental conditions, and pictures of the system.  In addition data collected from the EMS is posted monthly and is available for download.  Select a link in the Table of Contents to learn more.

This web site is being replaced with a new site.
The new site streamlines data processing and provides interactive data analysis
and visualization tools where viewers can select a time period and specific parameters
to create custom charts, statistical reports, 24-hour reports, and file downloads.

Please visit the new web site at





For additional information or suggestions contact:  Tom Opishinski

Site Updated 12/08/2008