The Incredible Sea Monster Tour of Caye Caulker

Long snout seahorse, hippocampus reidi, this is a female.
Long snout seahorse, hippocampus reidi, this is a female.

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.

sea star and Cassiopeia
sea star and Cassiopeia
Grumpy Frank the Batfish
Grumpy Frank the Batfish

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.

Ugly and lazy too
Ugly and lazy too
Lovely little monster
Lovely little monster
Shrek's child, or spotted sea hare
Shrek's child, or spotted sea hare

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.

They look like fish eh? These are 40 pound teenagers
They look like fish eh? These are 40 pound teenagers
These are Tarpon, can grow to 300 pounds!
These are Tarpon, can grow to 300 pounds!

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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Comments 10 comments

Ivorwen profile image

Ivorwen 6 years ago from Hither and Yonder

I love the sea horse. It is beautiful. That slug is something else! Where does the name sea hare come from?


Snapa profile image

Snapa 6 years ago from Belize Author

Yeah, the seahorses are always the bomb! The spotted sea hare actually resembles a crouching rabbit, the body is roundish, then it's got those feelers that look like ears sort of. They have a smell too, that has nothing to do with bunnies, but it is like iodine. Thanks for reading Ivorwen, appreciate the comment.


Ivorwen profile image

Ivorwen 6 years ago from Hither and Yonder

Thanks for the extra info on the sea hare. I just showed it to my three younger boys, and they all want one now. lol :D


Elisa 6 years ago

Hey Miss Allie, it is Elisa from Germany! Thanks for this great post. If it's okay with you i would like to feature you and your kayak tour in my blog! Also, i will be coming back to CC in late Sept with a friend of mine. If he's up for it, we're gonna go kayaking with you! :)

Talk to you soon!

Elisa


Snapa profile image

Snapa 6 years ago from Belize Author

Yay!Elisa, look forward to seeing you again!

Ivorwen I like your kids already!


CatB 6 years ago

Hi Allie :) Cathy from WA (june's daughter) Love the pics and commentary! Seashorses are my favorite too, but the batfish and sea hare definitely take the lead for unusual and interesting! Glad to hear things are going well, take care.


Bob & June 6 years ago

Great shots daughter, and am really impressed with your commentary - how did you get so smart? Must take after me...lol. Wish I could go with you kayaking one more time. Love Dad and June mom.


Snapa profile image

Snapa 6 years ago from Belize Author

Thanks family, for the comments on my commentary. When you do something you love to do it is easy! I have to be able to talk scientifically when I take out biologists and break it down to little pieces when with children so all my guests can understand the biology in my back yard!

Love!


Valerie 5 years ago

You live my dream. I live in the Adirondacks. We have lots of interesting life here too, but the underwater and uncharted caves are the places I have drempt about since I was a child. I didn't know about the existance of the sea hare, that is definitly an interesting organism. I loved your commentary.


Snapa profile image

Snapa 5 years ago from Belize Author

Ivorwen!- The sea hare actually looks like (kind of) a naked rabbit hunched up and with funny rabbit/ shrek ears, I guess it's a close enough resemblence lol...

Valerie- Anytime you find yourself in Belize please come to Caulker, you'll fall in love...I'm originally from Canada North so, I know what you mean all life is interesting for sure.

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