Mangrove Beekeeping in the Guatemalan Caribbean

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Apiculture, as a sustainable activity, can provide an alternative income to coastal communities, reducing their dependence on fishing and increasing their resilience to various economic and cultural vulnerabilities. Simultaneously, it can foster mangrove conservation by providing economic incentives for the protection and restoration of mangrove forests.


Mangrove forests, located in estuaries and coastal areas, are ecosystems comprising various mangrove species adapted to the high salinity of the aquatic environment in which they thrive. By bridging terrestrial and aquatic environments, these forests harbor significant biological diversity.

Balance is essential for proper ecosystem functioning, and mangroves, alongside the ocean, are a great example of this. The complex root systems of mangroves act as a natural filter for nitrates, phosphates, and various pollutants flowing within rivers, hence mangroves cleanse and improve the quality of water that  flows into the ocean. Additionally, these ecosystems help maintain the ecological balance of the ocean by acting as a refuge and providing food for many species of fish and sharks during their juvenile stage. As adults, these species migrate to the open sea,  playing an important role in the food web.

In addition to their role in maintaining ocean health, mangroves are indispensable for the wellbeing and resilience of coastal communities by providing a wide range of ecosystem services. These services include the supply of food such as fish, mollusks, and crustaceans, both for local consumption and commercialization. Furthermore, mangroves play a crucial role in regulating environmental processes by filtering and improving water quality, reducing coastal erosion, acting as barriers against hurricanes and floods, and mitigating the effects of climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. Mangroves also contribute to the survival of other species by producing oxygen and serving as a breeding habitat. Lastly, on a cultural and economic level, mangroves offer opportunities for sustainable recreational and tourism activities, generating income for local communities.

Despite their importance for the balance of nature and people, 35% of mangroves worldwide have disappeared due to many years of unsustainable use primarily driven by demand for resources and products in the international market. The consequences of the disappearance of mangroves have been particularly detrimental to the life and livelihoods of local coastal communities. The Rio Sarstún Multiple Use Protected Area (AUMRS, in Spanish), which lies on the Guatemalan Caribbean coast, is home to the second largest mangrove system in the Guatemalan Caribbean along with several communities, including Barra Sarstún. This community has shown genuine interest in mangrove conservation and has actively participated in reforestation efforts since 2021, thus improving the mangrove ecosystem and the community’s surroundings. In order to contribute to conservation efforts and address the challenges facing mangrove forests, the Mangrove Beekeeping project was launched in Barra Sarstún with the support of Pure Ocean Fund and New England Biolabs Foundation.

Beekeeping involves the care and management of bees, whose role in pollinating plants significantly contributes to the reproduction of local flora during their search for and collection of nectar and pollen. Therefore, promoting beekeeping in coastal communities like Barra Sarstún also fosters mangrove reproduction in these areas, benefiting ocean health.

Beekeeping provides a wide array of hive products, including honey, beeswax, propolis, royal jelly, and other derivatives which can be commercialized, representing a valuable economic alternative to diversify community income. Such diversification is crucial for counteracting the adverse economic impact of declining fish populations and climate change on fishing, the main livelihood of Barra Sarstún.

Furthermore, the implementation of beekeeping can generate new job opportunities within the community. This is especially important for women, who often face limited access to and control over household economic resources. By participating in beekeeping, women can help support their families and achieve greater economic and social empowerment within their communities. The inclusion of women in beekeeping not only strengthens the local economy but also fosters gender equality and sustainable development in Barra Sarstún.

As part of the Mangrove Beekeeping project, a series of theoretical and practical training sessions have also been conducted. These sessions have covered the operation, inspection, and management of beehives, as well as honey extraction and packaging for commercialization. Together with project participants, a logo and brand for the community’s honey products was also developed, resulting in the name Ki’il Sarstoon, which translates to “Sarstún honey” in the Q’eqchi’ Mayan language.

The marketing of the honey, in addition to generating income for the group of Barra Sarstún beekeepers, has the potential to raise awareness within and beyond the community regarding the importance of mangroves as a source of ecosystem services and economic benefits. In addition, it highlights the value of beekeeping as a sustainable livelihood capable of benefiting both the community and the surrounding mangroves. The goal is that beekeeping in the area will significantly contribute to mangrove conservation, both through the pollination provided by bees and by providing economic incentives for the community to continue actively participating in mangrove protection and restoration.

As part of the project, environmental education workshops on bees have also been conducted with local children and young people from schools in the community. The aim of the workshops has been to expand their understanding of the importance of mangroves, bees, and beekeeping, and to foster their interest in training and dedicating themselves to beekeeping in the future. This will help guarantee the continuity of the project and promote active participation by younger generations in the conservation and sustainable use of the natural resources of Barra Sarstún.

Additional readings

Friess, D. A. (2016). Ecosystem services and disservices of mangrove forests: Insights from historical colonial observations. Forests, 7(9).

Getzner, M., and Islam, M. S. (2020). Ecosystem services of mangrove forests: Results of a meta-analysis of economic values. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(16), 5830.

Hernández-Félix, L., Molina-Rosales, D., and Agraz-Hernández, C. (2017). Ecosystemic services and conservation strategies in the Isla Arena mangrove. Agricultura, Sociedad y Desarrollo, 14(3), 427–449.

Hidalgo, H., and López, C. (2007). Reserva de Usos Múltiples Río Sarstún. Ficha Informativa de los Humedales de Ramsar (FIR).

Himes-Cornell, A., Grose, S. O., and Pendleton, L. (2018). Mangrove ecosystem service values and methodological approaches to valuation: Where do we stand?Frontiers in Marine Science. 5:376.

MarFund. (2021). Comunidades del Caribe de Guatemala participan en la conservación y restauración de manglares. Pysanczyn, J. (2021). Mangrove Mania – The Ecosystem that Keeps on Giving. The Marine Diaries.


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Mako shark is a hydrodynamic shark (it means that it has a conical, pointed snout that breaks tides while it swims), similar to the shape of a torpedo. Its figure, its powerful muscular mass, its caudal fin, and even its ability to stabilize its body temperature, are factors that allow the Mako shark to swim at high speed in the ocean; this shark can reach speeds above 110km/h which makes it the fastest animal in the ocean. 

It is possible that because of its ability to stabilize its own temperature (endothermic), this shark can live in temperate environments and in tropical waters. The Mako shark diet is mainly comprised of tuna and weevils, although it also feeds on marine mammals, turtles, cephalopods (octopus, squid, among others) and even other sharks. 

It has a reproduction viviparous aplacental, reproductive mode in which the embryos develop within the mother and feed from unfertilized eggs (oophagy), and when they are fully developed are expelled. 

It is also classified as “Vulnerable” by the International Union for the Preservation of nature, implying that it is likely to become an endangered species. 

Picture: Eduardo López Negrete

Environmental education for the benefit of LIVINGSTON

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The environmental education project with emphasis on the reuse, recycling and reduction of the use of plastic began in its region of execution in Livingston, Izabal. The project aims to create awareness and educate middle-level youth about the problematic, progressive damage and impact of single-use plastic products for our planet.

The project was initiated where it aims to create a comprehensive mechanism of information on all aspects revolving around plastic, from its origin and manufacture, damages and benefits of plastic for humanity to practical ways to reuse , recycle and unused plastic for the protection of Livingston ecosystems.

This first workshop was executed during the last week of January, this workshop, in addition to serving as an introductory presentation also served to explain fundamental and basic aspects about plastics. Aspects such as: manufacture, provenance, oil refining process, plastics properties, plastic divisions and other related topics were treated.

The success of the first tour was confirmed with the interest shown by the students on how to approach the topic using specific points; fundamental points were addressed on generalities of the chemical properties of plastics, processes of creation of the most common polymers and division of plastics, also gave a historical review on the first synthetic plastic created in the world In addition to its creator and how this had a historical impact on the world.

The first workshop fulfilled its goal of educating and laying the foundations for further understanding of the latent and constant damage of polymers to humanity, ecosystems and the world in general. Although it is true that the activity was successfully developed, its development was not entirely normal due to the problem facing the community every time it rains in the sector; the electric power stops working when the rains are strong, and because of them the service was irregular during the development of the first workshop so that in none of the activities were used all the tools that were planned, were all workshops were modified in such a way that they could be understandable to young people using the dynamic activities and examples, comments and opinions from the same young people.

The presence of Blue World Foundation was positive and highly accepted by the educational establishments and their students showing their interest in the activities that are to come and that will be developed throughout the school year in the Augusta Blanco institutes Rubio and the national diversified education of Livingston.

We give a special thanks to Rufford Foundation for the support provided so that this project can be carried out.

For a shark, gluttony does not exist.

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A shark can survive for up to a year without feeding! As incredible as it may seem, (considering the large size of some shark species) sharks can survive for up to a year without feeding.

According to shark Pedia data, sharks can vary their eating habits depending on the regions where they live. These incredible aquatic animals have an easy adaptability to precarious situations in which they cannot obtain food during quite prolonged times, that is why some species of sharks eat just quantities of proportional food To your body and then not to eat again for weeks, months or even for a full year. The way they achieve this amazing feat is thanks to their liver. The Sharks-world site (Shark World in Spanish) states that like humans, sharks also have a liver, although the latter use it in a different way. Fish like sharks can store large amounts of oil during quite long times.

The efficient liver of sharks allows them to keep nutrients that facilitates survival in food shortages and is only when the oil in their liver decreases that they activate their instinct to feed; it is important to mention that like gasoline for a car, the liver of the Sharks should not run out of oil for the proper functioning of their organism.

The importance of the liver to the survival of sharks is not the only quality of this organ. Rob Harris indicates that biologically the liver of a surface shark has a total weight of 25 percent of its body weight while deep sharks may have only 5 percent.

Scientifically it has been proven that the more you need a shark to keep moving in order to get the oxygen from the water that passes through its gills, the more space can occupy the liver in the body of the Sharks. It has been confirmed that in many species of shark the liver can occupy about 90 percent of the body cavity of these fish.

The importance of the liver for the buoyancy of sharks is that the oil produced by this organ is lighter than water, allowing them to have a relatively lower weight than the pressure exerted by their body while swimming. This means that while the liver maintains a correct production of oil, the shark could not sink, besides that the difficulty and effort of its movement by swimming is reduced significantly and drastically.

It is amazing how complex and well-adapted shark organisms are to their own environments. If you meditate calmly, it can be concluded that for a shark gluttony is not an option. So when you no longer can and still try to give the last bite to your burger, remember that nature has lessons that are worthy of being emulated.

By Christian Zúñiga


Harris Rob Pets on [online]. – 25 of 01 of 2018. –

Sharks-World [online]. – 2017. – 25 of 01 of 2018. –

Spector Dina BUSINESS Insider [online]. – 2014 of 05 of 2014. – 25 of 01 of 2018. – Http://

Tiburón Pedia [Online]. – 18 of 01 of 2018. –

Pilgrim Shark, the liver of this shark can store about 400 liters of oil. * * Image entitled to reuse. Author: PXHERE.COM * *

Shark fin identification Guide in GUATEMALA

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The goal of this shark fin identification Guide is to facilitate training for wildlife inspectors, government agents and fishing services personnel in visual identification of the dorsal fins and Pectoral fins in five shark species that have been included in appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). This appendix includes species that are not necessarily endangered, but whose marketing must be controlled in order to avoid incompatible use with their survival. The species included in this guide include the silky Shark (Falciformisic Tiburon), two hammerhead sharks (common hammerhead shark, Sphyrna lewini and Giant Hammer, Sphyrna) and two species of foxes (thresher shark bigeye, Alopias Superciliosus and Pelagic fox, Alopias pelagicus), which are captured both on the Pacific coast and in the Caribbean of Guatemala.


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During the last week of August, Blue World Foundation continued to work with the youth of El Quetzalito. In this activity young people learned practical strategies based on critical thinking to exploit their creativity. 

They learned how to make portraits, and through the interviews they made, they designed a small comic book using script narration techniques, drawing and painting. 

It is in this way, young people of El Quetzalito developed their artistic skills to transmit messages about the care of the environment in a different way. 

Art is fundamental to the development of critical thinking in young people and also gives mechanisms to learn to express their thoughts in a different way and integrate new knowledge as they are inspired to make art. Blue World Foundation believes in it, totally.


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Although most people are familiar with 2 or 3 species of shark, such as the “acclaimed actor” the White shark or the hammerhead shark who has more popularity among the little ones being even the main character of one of the coloring books of Blue World Foundation (“Martin and his Friends” published in 2017). The number of sharks discovered so far could come as a surprise to all.

According to the national Department of Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the Department of Commerce of the United States (NOAA), that small portion of the marine world that man has been able to know turns out to be 5% of the oceanic bodies of the world. A relatively small percentage if it is considered that more than 75% of the world is made up of water and the rest by land.

Of the 400 species discovered today there are sharks as small as the dwarf lantern shark that has a length of only 20 cm or as large as the whale shark that can be measured 12 meters long (approximately the length of a bus School).

Although sharks are believed to be strictly carnivorous and therefore dangerous to humans, the British daily Independent (Independent in Spanish) has recently been confirmed by Josh Gabbatiss’s note that a study led by Samantha Leigh The University of California has determined that there are sharks that feed mostly on herbs, from meat from other fish, crustaceans and so forth. Leigh’s studies confirmed that the shovel-head shark (scientific name Sphyrna Shark) has a consistent diet rich in 90% of seaweed, which is enough to reduce the stereotypes that revolve around sharks and their alleged endangerment. This study shows that because of the variety of sharks, these not only maintain the balance of the aquatic food chain, but also play a key role in maintaining the balance of the habitats and ecosystems in which they are present.

Sharks are interesting animals that deserve vital attention because of their magnificence and their high value to maintain the health of the oceans; as a species man has still much to discover and it is thanks to the sharks that the oceans are balanced so that the man continues to unleash his exploratory instinct and, well, if there is no field and sharks to continue discovering!

By Christian Zúñiga


Gabbatiss Josh Independent [online]. – 10 of 01 of 2018. – 18 of 01 of 2018. –

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration U. S Department of Commerce National Ocean Service [online]. – 18 of 01 of 2018. World Wild Life WWF [online]. – 18 of 01 of 2018. – Https://