Cameron Waller ’14 – On day five of our trip to South Water Caye, Belize we started the day off by touring the Smithsonian Research Institute. While the tour may have been a little long winded, I learned a lot about the facility and the work that goes on there.
After departing from the Smithsonian, we traveled to Whale Schol, a patch reef, to snorkel and observe the environment and the animals in it. This was one of the best patch reefs we visited during our trip. The corals, sponges, and other invertebrates were extremely plentiful. At one point, I was able to swim into the reef where the water was only three feet deep, and I was completely surrounded by corals and sponges of all colors. While under the water here, I had a school of at least thirty angel fish swim in front of me like I wasn’t even there. This was amazing. The blue color of the angel fish was so bright, and the yellow accent made it even more majestic.
That night, we snorkeled out to the patch reef just off the south shore of the island. This was our second trip night snorkeling. This time around, the group handled it much better. Not as many of the guys were screaming like girls as we entered the pitch black water. While out in the patch reef, we saw a Caribbean Reef Octopus, two Caribbean Reef squids, a manta ray, lion fish, and other organisms. Once we all gathered, we turned off all our flashlights and witnessed bio luminescence in the ocean. The fish and other organisms in the water contained proteins within their bodies that fluoresced when no light was present. The ocean glowed a gorgeous baby blue color. This would have been the best part of the night snorkel if it were not for the two foot wide sting ray that swam 18 inches underneath me on the way in to the shore. This sting ray was a cliche silver color and was so incredibly close to me that I could see every detail. Night snorkeling was a once in a lifetime experience, and it was one of the highlights of the trip.