Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Reptiles in Belize

There are so many different kinds of reptiles in beautiful Belize and I want to tell you about some that I have seen and held. In San Ignacio, there is a resort that has a green iguana restoration project. The project is to mate and grow them for replenishment in forests. They were in trouble because people were hunting them but now they are protected. We got to go there and visit the iguanas. We got to see them and hold them. My favorite was Gomez. Gomez was a big male iguana who had orange colors because it was mating season. I got to pet him and he looked at me as if it felt real good. He was very smooth and soft and cold, but scaly. He was calm probably because it was a cold day.

The next day we went back to the green iguana restoration project and Eddie, the caretaker, hung 20 baby iguanas on me like a Christmas tree. They were hanging off my hat, my hair, my shoulders, my jacket and the middle of my pants. There were surprisingly calm because if was one of the coldest days yet.

Every day I see iguanas on our island. They aren’t as friendly as the greens and they are a different species. They are spiny tailed iguanas or wish willies. When they get real scared, they run very very fast. They also climb trees and are brownish beige.
We also have salt water crocodiles on our island. We have a big swamp that is loaded with them. A crocodile on our island is 14 feet long and his name is Tommy. There is a guy how works with us named Alton who has an odd way of calling Tommy and the others. It isn’t a whistle and he does not say here boy. Instead he throws a coconut into the brown mangrove water and they have a fake meal. The problem with crocs is that they eat dogs. Other than that, we cannot go swimming at night and don’t get near them in the mating season.

There is another species of croc called the Morelet’s crocodile and its habitat is slow moving freshwater rivers. I held a baby croc during our recent trip to Orange Walk. It liked to sit on my lap. It just laid there and fell asleep. Also there was a smallish boa constrictor that they found crawling around outside our room door. I got to hold it but had to hang on to its head tights so it would not bite. They are no venomous but they do hurt. But it didn’t bite me. That’s all for now. See you later on my next blog.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sophie meets Sylvia Earle

A famous scientist and explorer named Dr. Silvia Earle came to visit our little island to promote new her project called ‘Places of Hope‘. The reason she chose Turneffe Atoll is because of its high number of species of plants and animals found on the coral reefs, seagrasses, mangroves and on the island itself. Turneffe Atoll is also in danger of it being over developed, fished out and destroyed because it has no protection to the plants and animals that live here.

Dr. Earle has many nicknames, like ‘Her Deepness’ or the ‘Living Legend‘ but I found her to just be a nice person with an important mission. My favorite nickname for her is ‘Hero for the Planet‘, because she is so inspiring. She said that people have the power to do many things that have hurt the planet but we have the same power to do things to help the planet. She feels that we have the knowledge and the power to stop the bad things we are doing to the ocean. She said we used to believe that we could take as much out of or put into the ocean whatever we wanted and that it was so vast that it would not matter. But we have found out that it is not true.

I really hate to give bad news, but I’ve been out snorkeling around, listening to the lectures on coral reefs, fish populations and pollution and I believe we have a serious problem. I think the good news is that we really can make a difference now. I believe it’s now or never. I have some ideas about what I can do and am curious about what you think you can do.

1. Use less plastic. I see so much plastic washing up on our beach that it makes me feel very sad. This plastic seems to come from all over the world.
2. There are a lot of half worn shoes that wash up on our beach, unfortunately only one at a time. Can we make worn or unmatched shoes a fashion statement?
3. I buy stuff locally made so it doesn’t have to be shipped all over the world using lots of oil.
4. I don’t eat shrimp! When you see how the Mangroves are cut down, and then the gross places where the shrimp are raised you would not be able to swallow them. Then these festering shrimp ponds are abandoned after a couple of years and left abandoned because the water quality is not good anymore. Even wild shrimp has so much by-catch that is killed. There can be about a ton of fish killed for a bucket of shrimp. This happens is Biscayne Bay and all over the world.
5. REALLY think about what meat you are eating and how much feed does it take to grow the animal. Whether it is a fish farm or a cow. Don’t eat too much slow growing top predator fish or land animals.