In the Land of Make Belize

This morning we had a little later start; Bigs and his crew didn't arrive until eleven so we had a nice leisurely morning. Today we headed south and arrived at Shark-Ray Ally, which is a zone within Hol Chan Marine Reserve. This area is one of the most popular zones in Hol Chan for tourists. Long ago, local fisherman would empty their bait wells into this area and eventually they noticed that sharks and rays would be waiting for them to dump their bait. This conditioned the animals to expect a treat whenever they hear a boat's motor. 

So when we arrived at the site, about ten to fifteen nurse sharks swarmed our boat looking for our guides to dump their bait wells from their fishing trips in the morning. Some of us were trepidatious about jumping into this water that was teeming with sharks and sting rays. However, Bigs said that the sharks would leave once they had been fed so we needed to get in quickly. Once we entered the water, it was like being in a make belive world; there were tons of sharks and southern sting rays swimming all around us. We stayed in the water here for an hour just looking at these big creatures before we got out to travel to our next site of the afternoon.

This site was a little north of Hol Chan, and was protected so we needed to have Bigs guide us as a group on a snorkeling trail. After a quick lunch of quesadillas and banana bread, we all jumped in for our last snorkel of the trip! With Bigs as our leader, we set out into open water to see a shipwreck of a shrimp boat. "Tuffy" the shrimp boat met it's demise here near the channel of the reef and we were able to see the boat at the bottom of the ocean floor. We also continued along the channel with Bigs to see the huge walls of coral surrounding us and there were a lot of fish to see here; large schools of blue tangs, queen angelfish, grey snapppers, and a green morray eel. We spent an hour here following Bigs through the trail and then had to get back on the boat.

Blue Tang seen at Shark-Ray Ally!
A large nurse shark!
Snorkeling to the sunken Shrimp Trawler!
A Nurse Shark seen among many large Horse eye jacks at Shark-Ray alley.