Since arriving on the island, Ambergris Caye, our adventures have changed from exploring trees in the rainforest to discovering fish in the coral reef! Our primary activity on the island has been snorkeling. Over the course of our stay, we have gone on 5 different excursions visiting 9 different locations.
Shark Ray Alley is a popular snorkel spot filled with sharks and stingrays. While swimming through this area we saw countless nurse sharks averaging six feet in length. We also encountered eagle rays, manta rays, and stingrays, often between two and five feet wide!
At Hol Chan National Park our guides led us through the designated areas to minimize our impact on the coral. Although snorkeling seems like a harmless activity, there are many different ways that tourists can cause harm to the coral. It takes nearly a year for coral to grow an inch, however, the oil from human skin, as well as the kicking of sand, can clog the pores eventually killing it. Although there used to be many issues with tourists ruining the coral, recent changes in regulation, as well as the development of underwater national parks have helped to spread awareness as well as raise funds for the conservation of Belize's coral reef. While swimming through this park we spotted an eel, loggerhead turtle, and were able to swim under tunnels of coral!
One article we read by Ben Sanders was titled, The Importance of Education in Ecotourism Ventures. Within the article, Sander shared the results of a study, in which he found that participant knowledge of the environment greatly improved after experiencing an eco-tourism activity. He also expressed his opinion that education within eco-tourism is necessary for the sustainable development of the tourism industry. As more people rush to popular tourist destinations, human impact on the environment continues to increase. However, with a larger focus on education, Eco-tourism can work to inform tourists and improve conservation in areas like Belize.
Other activities on the island included a visit to Caye Caukler and a beach grill out. The island motto on Caye Caukler is "Go Slow", which perfectly sums up the island's vibe. During our afternoon on this island, we shopped and swam to our hearts' content before boating off into the sunset.
The beach grill out provided a day's worth of fun activity. Our guides, as well as the students, have been spearing lobsters during our snorkeling excursions all week. We topped off our stash by fishing for snappers, and then headed to the north beach to grill up some grub! The day was hot and the sun burned many people, however, with soccer, sand castles, and swimming it was impossible to not have a great time.
During free time, members of our group can be found all over the island. Between lounging on the Secret Beach, hitchhiking on golf carts, and doing yoga on the pier, every day is a new adventure
Until next time!