Snorkeling and Diving in Belize

2 10 2012

Belize has the second largest reef system in the world off its coast.

 We’ve been to the largest (the Great Barrier Reef of Australia) and we think (based on our very limited sampling) that the water visibility, health of the coral and variety of fish here (went snorkeled near Laughing Bird Caye off Placencia)  is better (granted – the Agincourt Ribbon reef we visited in Australia has probably been thrashed from years of tourists wrecking it – I’m sure there are obviously gorgeous areas of the Great Barrier Reef that we didn’t see).  When in Australia, we had to wear full body Lycra suits to protect us from potentially deadly jellyfish. Here in Belize, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that even though I was surrounded by jellies – they don’t sting! I think they were ovate comb jellies. Belize does have the same dangerous cone snails  that are also found in Australia, although we did not see any.   (After chiding my husband for picking up a beautiful snail shell on a Queensland beach, before I knew which ones contained the deadly neurotoxin, I ended up picking up a broken shell that turned out to be from a cone snail  – although after some research I realized it was not one of the deadly ones). All cone snails have tiny teeth that are similar to hypodermic needles. U can’t touch this!  With their toxic  little harpoons, they can inject an extremely poisonous venom that acts very swiftly, causing acute pain, swelling, paralysis, blindness, and possible death within hours.  The sting of many of the smallest cone species may be no worse than that of a bee or hornet sting, but the larger tropical fish eating species are known killers, including the Geographic Cone (Conus geographus) the Textile Cone (Conus textile), the Tulip Cone (Conus tulipa), and the striated cone  (Conus striatus), although approximately twenty cones are known to be dangerous to humans.

 

 With their famous Blue Hole , Belize attracts serious SCUBA divers, who are certified for dives deeper than 100 feet (which is the maximum depth recommended for recreational divers).  It looks striking from the air

Here are some pictures my husband took while snorkeling off the coast of Placencia near Laughing Bird Caye with some of the fish identified:

Blue Chromis (Chromis cyanea):

Stoplight Parrotfish Super Male (Sparisome aurofrenatum):

Spotted trunkfish (Lactophrys bicaudalis):

This was our favorite fish on this trip – the yellowtail damselfish (Microspathodon chrysurus):

  The juveniles have bright spots on them.

The Spotfin Butterfly Fish (Chaetodon ocellatus):

Sergeant Majors  (Abudefduf  saxatilis) – this gives you an idea of the fantastic visibility:

Blue Head Wrasse  (Thalassoma bifasciatum):

Lobstah anyone?

I did touch a Scorpionfish (Pterois antennata )

(not my picture)

….….OK I admit it was AFTER the stingers on his head and fins had been removed by Avadon dive staff who are trying to make the waters safer for snorkelers and divers….plus the fish make good eats!

This is an impressive spotted eagle ray (Aetobatus narinari) with quite the long tail that swam next to our boat:

What I REALLY want to see and swim with is a whale shark  (Rhincodon typus)a slow-moving filter feeding shark and the largest fish in the sea (could this be who swallowed Jonah? Just speculation….). The largest confirmed individual had a length of 41.50 ft and a weight of more than 47,000 lbs. Whale sharks aggregate to feed on jack and snapper spawn during the full moons (and ten days following them) in March- May at Gladden Spit off the Placencia coast.

Back to our pictures of purple Sea Fans (Gorgonia ventalina ) and lots of other coral

 (does the one on the right look like a dog face with saggy jowls to you too?):

While living in Alabama in the foothills of the Appalachians, a six hour drive from the beach, we found lots of fossilized salt-water sea coral

 (colonial rugosa) in our back yard. To me, this is great evidence of a Noah’s Ark type of worldwide deluge.  While a paleontologist would tell you that it was 325 million years old, as a Bible believing proponent of a young earth (created with inherent age), I was interested to find out that coral really can grow quickly .  I know I’m changing subjects, but as ramblin’ San, that’s my prerogative! The Answers in Genesis website also has interesting insights on dinosaurs you might enjoy checking out. (They “put the cookies on the lower shelf for everyone to enjoy” – great for kids too!)


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