Day 8 (5/23): Hello World

We’re back on the mainland and I’m not too sure how to feel about it. I was dreading the marine portion of the class the few weeks leading up to the class because I have never swam in the ocean before, much less snorkel in it. The whole environment was new to me, I did not know what to expect, and was not sure of my abilities in the ocean. However, after a week of constantly snorkeling, performing experiments on marine life, and gulping in large amount of seawater, I came to fall in love with the beach life. The refreshing coolness of the Caribbean Ocean and the sense of adventure enticed me like no other. Unfortunately, it was violently ripped away from me just as I overcame my previous self-doubts. Such is life I guess.

As every other day, today was packed- we loaded the boat at Glover’s Reef around 8AM to visit the Smithsonian’s Carrie Bow Island and the mangroves in Twin Caye. Carrie Bow Island, like Glover’s Reef, was a piece of paradise- it was much smaller than Glover’s Reef, but was covered with coconut trees, soft white sand, and had 360° views of sparkling blue water. All in the name of research, of course. A man named Clyde was the field station manager on duty and he gave us a briefing of Carrie Bow’s history while showing us around the station. Excellent bathrooms, I tell you. Excellent.

At 10AM, we left Carrie Bow to go to the mangroves and SAW A MANATEE AT THE MANGROVES!!! Get excited because that is completely ridiculous. Scott and Adrienne said it was the first manatee sighting in this course’s long history. The mangroves were another universe- unlike the ocean, it was calm and serene with magnificent knotted red mangrove roots and turquoise-green water. Oh yeah, the class saw a small yellow seahorse too. Just putting that out there.

We arrived at Belize City around 1PM, ate lunch at a restaurant called Calypso, and reached the Tropical Education Center (the same place we stayed one week ago) at 4PM. Then, Scott took us on a trip down a TEC trail, where I saw an unidentified spider with yellow spots on its abdomen hanging on a web with small fly in mouth (maybe G. cancriformis). I also saw a gray/brown wolf spider (Hogna spp.) hiding in an epiphyte’s leaves. It was about 2 inches long and was not moving at all.

After dinner, we went to the Belize Zoo for a night tour and saw so many animals- coatimundi, an ocelot named Rayburn who made really loud purring noises while eating meat, a jaguar, a puma, and even a Morelet crocodile. Oh, I also fed a Baird’s tapir some carrots. No big deal. All in all, it’s been a pretty noteworthy day. Bye-bye surf and hello turf!

Tapir at the Belize Zoo

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