We had breakfast half an hour early this morning so we could leave Glover’s to head home. The cooks were super nice and besides making amazing food earlier than normal, they made us this delicious cinnamon cake to take on the way.
We got on the boat and left with all our stuff by 7. Our first stop was Carrie Bow Cay, a small island that has a field station run by the Smithsonian. We found a few Caribbean hermit crabs while there. There was a team of scientists there from Nova University. They were studying how staghorn and elkhorn coral hybrids are more resistant to heat. The professor who was there, Nicky Fogarty, talked to us about how she got permission to do research on the island and what changes she’d seen in the coral over the past few years (surprisingly not many) and then showed us the corals her team was testing. It was really cool to see another research station as well as some “actual scientist” studying reefs.
Our next stop was the mangroves of Twin Caye. We got out of our boat and snorkeled around for about thirty minutes. At first, it seemed like the mangroves didn’t have much going on besides algae, fire sponges, and small silver fish, but as we swam along the edge of the mangrove forest, I began to notice more and more colorful fish like we’d been seeing in the reef. The mangroves act as a nursery for some young fish. They’re a great place to hide out, grow, and avoid predators. The benthos around the mangroves was super mucky and full of dead leaves and algae, which makes both good material to hide among and good food.
After the mangroves, we rode the rest of the way back to Belize city. I took a long nap on the boat ride back which was nice, finally catching up on a little sleep. We ate lunch at a place called Calypso at the dock and then headed to the airport.
As we were walking out to the airplane that was taking us home, I was saying “I don’t think my dad is flying us home, but I’ve got this feeling in my gut…” I looked up at the cockpit and saw one of the pilots smiling and waving at me. I didn’t recognize him though, but as we walked past the first door, heading to the back door where everyone was loading into the plane, I saw my dad excitedly waving from just outside the cockpit. I smiled big at him as I got on the plane. One of the flight attendants came to say hi to me and tell me they’d been hearing all about me since they left Houston. My dad made an announcement about bringing us home on the speakers before the flight left. The weirdest part about the flight was not being near everyone else and hearing the constant banter, time to merge back into my normal culture I suppose.
When we got out of customs we all hugged and took pictures and said goodbye before heading our separate ways to get home. My dad and I flew back to Dallas and I finally got to sleep in my own bed again. I had a great Belizean adventure, made great friends, and learned a ton about field research. It was a great time and an experience I’m going to remember forever.