Mangroves + Goodbyes

Hello everyone! Once again, the sunrise was unbelievably (or should I say unBelizably?) beautiful and the perfect way to begin our last day in Belize. We left Glover’s Reef early this morning and took a boat out to Carrie Bow Cay Marine Field Station. It was a cool place, but learning that global climate change could lead to rising water levels that could make the island disappear completely made me sad. During a quick tour of the quaint research facilities, I saw quite a few echinoderms that had been dried or preserved. Most notably, there were some slate pencil urchins (Eucidaris tribuloides) and a large red heart urchin (Meoma ventricosa) along their balcony railings.

Carrie Boy Caye Marine Field Station, a Smithsonian Institution
Carrie Boy Caye Marine Field Station, a Smithsonian Institution

We then headed to Twin Cayes to snorkel among the mangroves in the channel that gives the islands their name. The waters here were really murky, with lots of loose sediment that was easily kicked up by our fins, so it was a little hard to see at times. However, I did identify several large bright orange cushioned stars (Oreaster reticulatus) lying in the sand near algae patches. It was fun to be able to hold them and feel the short knobby spines on their dorsal side. Too soon, our last snorkel in Belize was finished and we climbed back aboard the boat to ride to Princess Marina.

A bright orange cushioned star (Oreaster reticulatus)
A bright orange cushioned star (Oreaster reticulatus) found at the mangroves

Lunch at Calypso came to an end all too quickly, and then came time for us to say goodbye to our three wonderful marine safety officers who had assisted us every time we flipped our fins in the water (and with much more on land as a matter of fact). Sitting here now in this Southwest airlines plane and staring out the window at the green-blue ocean outside, it’s hard to imagine that more goodbyes to the amazing students and professors who I’ve spent the last two weeks with are rapidly approaching. A lot has happened these past couple weeks, and I wouldn’t have wanted to spend them with any other group of people. Check back in tomorrow for my final recap and reflection. 🙂

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