Tropical Ecology

“Last Day in the Jungle”

During our last night in the Jaguar Preserve we took a short walk to find Jason’s Favorite Bug — the Dragon Head Bug. It is only found on one species of tree, and spends the day in the canopy before coming down the trunk at night. Sure enough, we found it on the tree where Jason had spotted it last year!

A morning boardwalk to the South Stann Creek started our day. We were really excited to see Keel-billed Toucans. While they were a little distance away they were easy to see with binoculars and a spotting scope. Plus they have a really distinctive silhouette that looks like a “crow pushing a banana.”

After a delicious breakfast that included johnny cakes, we set off for the Ben’s Bluff Waterfall. We enjoyed hiking through the jungle, marveling at the buttress roots, huge philodendron, and beautiful tropical heliconias. The waterfall was beautiful. We were able to swim back to the little grotto created by the force of the water. Back there we found a small bird nest with two eggs. We think it is a Cave Swallow nest. We then took turns posing under the cascade, with Nathan kicking it off posing like a weightlifter!

Our hike back down was fast because we were looking forward to heading to the coast, but we slowed to a stop when Nathan spotted a Coral Snake. This was the first snake in the wild we have seen. Nathan made sure everyone got a chance to see it.

We headed back down the road to Maya Center where we stocked up on chocolate products at Che’il. We were all excited to buy the products we had learned how to make after our chocolate tour the day before — YUM YUM YUM!

At Pelican Beach Hotel in Dangriga we enjoyed a beautiful view of the Caribbean as we relaxed over lunch. Our luggage filled the bow of the boat, and we sat towards the back for our ride to Pelican’s Pouch at Southwater Caye. We were shocked when we had an hour of free time to get ready for our first snorkel.

We met on the beach to try out our snorkel gear. After making sure that everyone’s  masks fit, we swam over the Turtlegrass to our first reef. We saw lots of fish including Stoplight Parrotfish, Fairy Basslet, and a Nurse Shark! We stayed with our buddies and spent nearly an hour “oohing and aahing” into our snorkels before it was time to get back.

Our evening meeting was with a view of the sunset, and after dinner we spent a little time stargazing and identifying constellations. We saw at least three shooting stars, too!

We are enjoying this transition from jungle to sea.