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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

The Barrier Reef

December 20th, 2011 · No Comments

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Thanksgiving Day in Belize gave us much to be thankful for. For starters, the rain of the previous day was gone.

We had the most sunny and calm weather that anyone could desire. A one-hour ride in a skiff from Dangriga took us to two small islands on the barrier reef. Our guide, Glenn, said that he had been here many times before and he had never seen the sea so calm inside the reef.

En route to our destination on South Water Caye we passed close to Man-o-War Caye, which is uninhabited except by birds — by many birds, but mainly by Brown Boobies and Magnificent Frigatebirds.

Brown Boobies are Large Seabirds that Nest on Man-o-War Caye

Brown Boobies are Large Seabirds that Nest on Man-o-War Caye

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I had never seen any boobies before. But I had seen the other bird large seabird that nests on Man-o-War Caye. Many Magnificent Frigatebirds had flown over me when I visited the Dry Tortugas in February, but they weren’t nesting there.

Magnificent is a well-deserved part of this big bird’s name and not just an adjective. These birds are obviously big, but I didn’t appreciate their magnificence before.

After seeing them during the breeding season on Man-o-War Caye, I now understand. Males have a wingspan of up to 7.5 feet. And they inflate a large red throat sac to attract females.

A Male Magnificent Frigatebird Attempts to Interest a Female

A Male Magnificent Frigatebird Attempts to Interest a Female

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Among other species that we saw there was this relative of Magnificent Frigatebirds.

A Brown Pelican Rests

A Brown Pelican Rests

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The birds of Man-o-War Caye were a big bonus. But we had gone out on the Caribbean Sea to snorkel on the largest coral reef in the Western Hemisphere. The Belize Barrier Reef is one of the world’s most diverse ecosystems with more than 100 species of coral and 500 species of fish.

Looking a Bit Uneasy, I Am Ready to Go Snorkeling for the First Time since 1969

Looking a Bit Uneasy, I Am Ready to Go Snorkeling for the First Time since 1969

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I already had four cameras, including Canon 7D and 50D single-lens reflex models. But taking any of them under water would have been a big mistake. Kevin Loughlin, the president of Wildside Nature Tours, told me that he has a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 and highly recommended it. Kevin is not only the head of the great company that showed me Belize but also an experienced professional photographer.

So that’s what I got. Most people wouldn’t buy a new camera for one day of snorkeling. But it was well worth the cost because it met the challenge of shooting under water and also because it is now the camera that I carry around with me every day. My Canon 7D and Canon 50D single-lens reflex cameras are too heavy to take everywhere, my older Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2 is a little too bulky, and the camera in my iPad 2 is more like a toy.

Glenn took this shot of me with my new camera.

Glenn took this shot of me with my new camera.

Snorkeling!

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Coral on the Belize Barrier Reef

Coral on the Belize Barrier Reef

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The view of the coral and the fish were magnificent. Here are just a few shots that my new camera captured.

A Spotted Ray Swims Near the Bottom

A Spotted Ray Swims Near the Bottom

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A Striped Fish

A Striped Fish

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A Parrotfish

A Parrotfish

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A Lionfish Has Venomous Fin Rays

A Lionfish Has Venomous Fin Rays

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After snorkeling we returned for lunch at South Water Caye, owned in part by the Pelican Beach Resort where we stayed in Dangriga. The pilot of our skiff, Ishmael Usher, gave me a noni fruit. His grandmother had used noni juice to manage her diabetes, and I subsequently wrote about noni for HealthCentral.

I'm Ready to Eat Noni; It Didn't Taste Good

I'm Ready to Eat Noni; It Didn't Taste Good

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The rest of the lunch was much better. We had grilled snapper at the outdoor restaurant.

Back at the resort in Dangriga our dinner wasn’t local food. They served us a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with turkey and the trimmings.

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Posted in: Belize

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