Monday, April 28, 2008

Belize trip: day 2

Day 2 was the first big day of snorkelling. I checked my notebook, I have a list a page and a half long of all the fish we identified. Don't know how long I will remember them all though. Right now I think I can put a face to a name, so to speak, for all of the fish on my list, but my memory is not to be counted on for very long.

I had a terrible time with my snorkel mask. I got very frustrated with that, it leaked terribly. Omar had a replacement for me, but it fogged up. In the end he gave me his own mask.

In the morning we went in the water off the wharf at the Reef's End bar, in the afternoon we kayaked out a ways and snorkelled from our kayaks. Josh was ill, turns out he is susceptible to motion sickness and the rocking of the ocean waves did him in. Fortunately Matt and Daisy had some really good motion-sickness medication that they got at a dive shop, they gave Josh some and that seemed to help.

Here's my list:

spotted eagle ray
yellow skate ----->
southern stingray
squirrelfish
french grunt
yellowtail snapper
red hind
stoplight parrotfish
needlefish
4-eye butterflyfish
sergeant major
tarpon
blue tang
banded butterflyfish
grey angelfish
blueheaded wrasse
spanish hogfish
cocoa damselfish
trumpetfish

Late afternoon I went snorkelling in the shallow water in front of our cabins to try to sort out my mask problems. I was not successful, but I did manage to cross the path of the spotted eagle ray that patrolled that stretch of water. We were only a few feet away from each other in the shallow water! He continued on his was without even noticing, I was in total awe of seeing a ray up close and personal like that.

I think that is one of the amazing things about snorkelling, you almost feel like an eavesdropper or a fly-on-the-wall, the fish appear to ignore you and just continue on with their lives as if you weren't there. You feel like you're part of it, in a way that you don't get from a walk in the forest. Imagine walking in the woods with all the deer and foxes and raccoons and wolves and birds and frogs just carrying on as if you weren't there, calmly walking along, hunting, eating, whatever they do in a normal day at home. Being able to see all the different fish and other living things on the coral reef living their lives in full view only a few feet away from you is really amazing. Of course the beautiful colours of the fish and the corals and the wonderful experience of floating in warm turquoise water aren't too shabby either.

I took a lot of underwater pictures over the course of the trip and very few of them turned out at all. Many of them show nondescript grey little fishies, so if I do this again (and I sure hope I do!) I will not bother with photos. Google the fish names and look at internet pictures that do these gorgeous little guys justice!

The reefs of Belize are in remarkably good condition I'm told. Carol scuba dives and she's been all over and she was certainly impressed with what she saw here. There are three kinds of coral communities: barrier reefs, atoll reefs and fringe reefs. We explored barrier and fringe reefs, on this trip I don't think we saw any atoll reefs. Glover's Reef and Lighthouse Reef are examples of that. So besides fish we saw several kinds of coral, but I didn't keep a list so I can't really tell you all the names. I remember brain coral, fan coral and fire coral, that's about it.

We were not ecstatic about the accommodations on Tobacco Caye. I was starving all the time, although Omar did ask for second servings for us. But waiting for it to be dinner was hell, snorkelling made me so hungry!

I dunno, on the one hand it was idyllic but on the other it's easy to pick at the failings of heaven.

Sam told me that the general opinion of past Paradise Island trippers was that the accommodations improved as the trip progressed. Better that we start with the less than ideal and improve from there, than vice versa!

Back to trip summary
Back to Day 1
On to Day 3...

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