DAY 8 — Leaving Glover’s Reef was sad, but so far so good on land! We left Middle Caye at 8:00 am sharp and headed to Carrie Bow Caye. There we met Clyde, who is a volunteer station manager for the Smithsonian research station, who was generous enough to show us around. It was cool to see another research station, similar to the WCS facility on Middle Caye at Glover’s.
Another quick boat ride took us to Twin Caye, where we had our last romp in the water. We saw a manatee on the way, which was a fun treat. We walked through some mangrove peat among the red mangroves, which was mucky and wet, but a lot of fun. Then we suited up for a final snorkel among the mangrove roots.
There were many, many sponges growing among the roots of the mangroves. Lots of encrusting sponges grow on the roots and are able to get more nutrients that way. I saw the encrusting Orange Icing Sponge (Mycale laevis) and many other kinds of sponges, but I had some difficultly identifying them. I also saw lots of jellyfish, a juvenile spotted ray, and lots of juvenile fishes. Therese spotted and caught a tiny yellow seahorse. It was crazy to see a seahorse in real life.
PHOTO OF SPONGES ON ROOTS
We completed our journey back to TEC, saying goodbye to Javier and Adolfo. Before dinner, we squeezed in some hiking around the trails at TEC. I had a possible sweat bee sighting (Halictini tribe) but didn’t really get a good look.
The highlight of the day for me was our night tour of the Belize Zoo. It was easily the best zoo experience I have ever had. They only keep native species, and their enclosures are as close as possible to natural, untouched, Belize vegetation. Most of the animals were rescued or confiscated from people keeping them illegally and very few were captured from the wild.
I got to feed a Tapir, named Indie, which was a dream come true. I loved his little snout snuffling at and crunching on carrots and lettuce. We also saw nocturnal opossums, pacas (who happily chomped at the bananas we gave them), an ocelot, a cougar, and a jaguar named Junior who did somersaults in exchange for food. We saw a few species of owl: a spectacled owl, a barn owl, and a pygmy owl. We also saw a frigate bird, named Molly, who had lost an eye and the ability to fly. She had been fashioned little “shoes” because her feet are not used to standing so much.
At the end of the tour, we each got a chance to hold a boa constrictor. Five stars for the Belize Zoo.
PHOTO OF BOA
Finally, an EBIO 319 alumnus (Lucretia) happened to be at TEC the same night as us. She is back in Belize this summer working with jaguars. She talked to us about her time as a TFB and then as an independent researcher during study abroad in Tanzania. It was cool to hear about what she had done, how EBIO 319 had inspired her, and what she plans to do next.
Tomorrow we have another early morning and another busy day!