Click here to jump to an online photo album with 41 photos from today.
Greetings from San Pedro, a/k/a La Isla Bonita.
We had a great day of snorkeling today in hot, calm conditions. Our days at TREC have already settled into something of a routine:
7:30AM: wake up
8:30AM: gather and check gear
8:45AM: walk to beach for clean up
9:00AM: board the boat
Today, we rode on the main TREC boat, a large catamaran called Goliath. It is skippered by Norman with the help of his son, Jeff, who also serves as a tour guide. Ken Mattes, Ph.D., the founder of TREC, also rode with us today.
This is the beach that we help to clean each day:
This is a view of the Goliath taken from that dock:
This is our intrepid and helpful crew:
Our first stop was a mangrove swamp at the southern tip of Ambergris Caye. Mangrove swamps are formed by the roots of mangrove trees, which grow in dense clusters to form islands in the ocean. The mangrove swamp teems with life in incredible abundance. It is really an amazing place to visit and a true treasure of the natural world:
It is hard to convey the myriad species and habitats we saw there with a few photos, but these should give you a taste. Did you spot the barracuda?
After a lengthy stop there, and a careful check to pull the isopods (harmless marine parasites), we motored with the Goliath to our next stop. Along the way, we ate sandwiches on the boat, relaxed, and compared notes about the species seen and identified:
Our next stop was a reef called Coral Gardens. Here, we began our laboratory research. Last night, the class met and formulated some ideas about questions to study. The students were curious about the relative abundance and biodiversity of reef patches vs. open sandy patches. Today we began to formulate a method for studying such questions:
We then spent over an hour touring Coral Gardens which, as the name suggests, contains abundant coral, particularly elkhorn coral. We also ran into a nurse shark and a southern spotted eagle ray:
After Coral Gardens, we returned to TREC. We met in the classroom to formalize our field methodology, formulate hypotheses, and devise a research plan for the rest of the week. After the usual fine dinner at TREC, we headed into town for some ice cream and to stimulate the local Belizean economy;
A most excellent day of adventure! Tomorrow will be spent primarily collecting data for our research project. Good night from Belize!