It was not even 8am and we were off to Aqua Mar, the largest shrimp farm in Belize, for the second day of our project. Owned by Michael Duncker and managed by Linda Thornton, Aqua Mar is a massive, multimillion dollar establishment covering around 1,000 acres. It is comprised of 90 ponds and raises shrimp from eggs to half-foot giants. There are over 100 employees, including more than a dozen specialists in research and technology. Each night, 4 staff members sleep overnight to manage risks ranging from power outages to raids by seafood thieves.
Upon arrival, we interviewed Mr. Duncker about the history of the Aqua Mar farm and Linda’s role in the company. He told us that Linda was the one he needed to manage his farm for her experience and knowledge. According to him, 90 percent of Aqua Mar’s shrimp are exported, but only rarely to the U.S.
The first building contained the largest shrimp –which are given a special diet and are living egg factories. According to Linda, typical female shrimp reproduce once a year. At Aqua Mar however, they reproduce once a week and each female produces around 200,000 babies. We learned that while only one percent of those fry survive in the wild, 25-50 percent survive at Aqua Mar. A staff member, Bartolo Cal, held a flapping and uncooperative shrimp above the water to describe its features and an undergraduate on the filmmaking team, was daring enough to lower a waterproof camera into the tank to get underwater footage of the swimming shrimp.