Today was officially our last day in Belize. I didn’t want to leave that beautiful country, with its pristine natural places and amazing people. I plan to return one day soon!
Even though it was our last day, we still had work to do! We left Glover’s at 7am with a packed breakfast, and headed out to Carrie Bow Caye. This island is only an acre in size, but houses the Smithsonian research station. The volunteer station managers gave us a nice tour, and we got to meet some of the researchers doing work there. The station seemed like a really nice place to do field work.
After Carrie Bow Caye, we travelled to Twin Caye, an island separated by a narrow channel. Here, we got to explore the infamous mangroves. Luckily, there were almost no mosquitos or sand flies. The mangroves are an incredible environment both above and below the water. The mangrove tree species have evolved special adaptations, such as aerial roots, to deal with the high salinity of their environment. Underwater, the trees often have mutualistic sponges attached to their roots. We saw many species of juvenile fish swimming throughout the tangled root systems, as mangroves often serve as fish nurseries.
I saw a small school of juvenile needlefish in the mangroves, and other students reported seeing a barracuda as well. Since so many fish species start their lives in mangroves, it is paramount that these ecosystems are preserved.
After getting back to Belize City around noon, we had another lunch at Calypso restaurant, and then said goodbye to all the Glover’s staff that had been so helpful to us throughout the trip. Then it was off to the airport, and back to Houston (thankfully, no transportation troubles this time).