The Incredible Sea Monster Tour of Caye Caulker
The Mangrove Ecosystem
I discovered that there was a strange world behind the island of Caye Caulker,Belize, called the Mangrove Ecosystem. It's a super important part of the entire Belize Barrier Reef. It is the nursery for all the pretty little fishes and home to some creepy crawly weirdos. Our reef is the second longest barrier reef in the world running 180 miles, which is the length of our little country.
Anyways, I take people on kayaks around the island and educate them by showing them some of the characters that live amongst the mangrove roots and canopy. Folks are always amazed at the creatures that live here.
Above are photos of the Cushion Sea star cozied up to a Mangrove Upside Down Jellyfish also known as Cassiopeae Xamanchana, (named after the constellation that is a W or an M depending where you are). This jelly likes to lay around on its back and collect plankton as it passes by. They love to group up, just like Jellyfish Fields on Sponge Bob Squarepants. For sure if you don't look before jumping in the water, you'll get mildly stung.
Then there is Grumpy Frank, the Batfish. It looks like he forgot to step out of the water when evolving. He can walk on the sea bottom with his stylized pec fins, not that he walks alot, he usually just sits and waits for a meal to investigate his unihorn lure and then sucks them down!
Batfish are easily captured and are pretty ugly looking. My guess is they taste bad too.
Pillow Secrets and Tough Guys
Above is a photo of the Long Snout Seahorse. One of everybodies favorite creatures. These cute little monsters are not abundant but are still found in pockets around the caye. Seahorses are so cool, monagamous and resiliant. I lke the fact that the female hands the eggs over to the male. He puts them in a pouch under his belly and gestates to term. He can give birth up to 1500 babies! Unfortunately some cultures believe that to consume them brings virility and higher libido, thats BS. We've got Viagra now, leave these beautiful guys alone .
Then there is my personal favorite, the Spotted Sea Hare, I call this one Gary but it's a true hermaphrodite so I misnamed it. These slugs can grow up to 12 inches and weigh .5 lbs. They ink you if you are not gentle, but I can determine individuals by their spots, so this ones been on my tour before, we are good friends. Another amazing thing about Gary is he can mate in a chain of 3 to 5 slugs, like an orgy. everyone is doing it , doing it, doing it!
Below is two photos of the bullies of the mangroves, Megalops Atlanticus, AKA Tarpon, these guys are still juveniles and will stay around consuming tons of sprat. We stop to watch them hunt like wolves but they are more interested in us. Some tourists are brave or stupid enough to actually hand feed these guys. Yeah, they get gummed to death.LOL they have a hard plate instead of teeth. They don't chew ,just swallow! These are catch and release sport fish protected by law.
Well I hoped you enjooyed the tour highlights! There is alot more of course! Algeas and seagrasses and fish snot, ew. Please leave your comments and let me know what you love. thanks.
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