Open Mapping Data Site Now Available: ***All publicly available data from our research fieldwork is now available on our Hopkins Village Open Mapping Data Site at:

Summer 2017 Research Results from Citizen Science GIS: Collaborating with Communities to Investigate Beach Debris in Hopkins, Belize

We collaborated with the Hopkins Village Council, University of Central Florida, Georgia State University, University of Belize, and the Smithsonian Caribbean Coral Reef Ecosystems Program to examine the abundance and distribution of beach debris along the coast of Hopkins, Belize. Beach debris has a variety of negative effects including health hazards to beachgoers, harm to fish and other organisms, and detraction from the beauty of the beach. Based on feedback from the Hopkins community, we defined beach debris as both natural and non-natural items that come from the sea and land. Through conversations with community members, we learned that objects like syringes and vials of blood have washed up on the beach which pose health risks to community members. Additionally, fishing and tourism are the main sources of income for Hopkins residents, both of which are negatively impacted by beach debris. Since beach debris affects community members in many ways, a key part of our work was collaborating with community members through data collection, interviews, and perception mapping. This helped us to understand why beach debris is relevant to the community of Hopkins.

Read the 2017 Marine Debris Community Report in PDF Format.

Summer 2016 Research Results for Citizen Science: Understanding Coastal Marine Debris In Hopkins Through Participatory Geographic Information Systems

Working with the Village Council of Hopkins, the University of Central Florida, Georgia State University, the University of Belize, The Smithsonian Caribbean Coral Reef Ecosystems Program, and the Pan American Development Foundation, our collaborative research team in Hopkins, Belize, was focused on understanding the composition and density of natural and man-made debris (trash) along the coast. The reason debris is such a large problem worldwide, and more specifically in Hopkins, is because it has large economic, health, and wildlife impacts. These issues include causing injury, harm to the tourist industry (a large source of income for Hopkins), increasing mosquito breeding sites, and hurting animals, both in the ocean and on land. A large part of our collaborative work focused on talking with community members to gain their insights into debris hotspots (areas of higher concentrations of debris).

Final Community Report: You can read the final 8 page report to the community for the Summer 2016 research in the following documents (click on the link to read the report):

Debris Community Report 2016 (PDF Format)

Debris Community Report 2016 (Word Format)

Citizen Science GIS collecting marine debris data with Hamanasi Resort staff in Hopkins, Belize.

Citizen Science GIS researchers collecting marine debris data with Hamanasi Resort staff in Hopkins, Belize.

Key Findings:

  • We were able to find out that residential lands have more man-made debris than other types of land. This could possibly mean that there should be an educational campaign focused on reducing waste, especially plastics, left on the beach.
  • We found that natural debris such as Sargassum, sticks/logs and cut coconuts was most prominent in “unused land uses” along the beach.
  • We found that there is a need to increase awareness of where debris is mostly found along the beach, so that those areas can be cleaned up first. All of these data can be used to increase education and make for a better, more efficient beach cleanup program.
  • We can tell that a good place to put a trash bin would be by the pier, presumably because that is where many people hang out and where a lot of trash may get left behind.

Final Debris Research Presentation:

If the above has kept you scrolling down our page, then you will absolutely love our Final Prezi of the debris team’s research (click on the slide below to view the full Prezi presentation).