Hello there, Sirenian Bay friends!
This is your favorite aquatic newshound reporting in from the ever-sunny shores of Placencia.
Today we’re going to take to the beach, the reef and the rainforest in search of the local creatures that give Belize a reputation for being a bit “on the wild side”.
Conservation is a big deal in Belize, with over a quarter of our land and sea covered by wildlife preservation initiatives designed to protect wildlife and ensure eco-sound resource management. And with good reason!
Belize is a hugely biodiverse place, with hundreds each of mammals, birds, amphibians and fish living among an amazing array of ecosystems. Jaguars roam the rainforest, and UNESCO has given our gorgeous barrier reef the World Heritage nod.
Here in Placencia, wildlife spotting is as easy as going outside. Bottlenosed dolphins and crocodiles can be spotted in the lagoon, and there are 70 different fish species swimming around. (I hear there’s the occasional manatee, too, but that could have just been me on a day off…) Tropical king birds are everywhere, and humming birds, kingfishers and toucans have been known to make an appearance.
And there are plenty more wildlife-watching opportunities close to home.
An easy daytrip from town, Monkey River is no monkey business. Vibrant with crocodiles, iguanas, gibnuts, agoutis, butterflies, tropical birds – and of course its namesake monkeys – it’s a wildlife bonanza.
About two hours from Placencia, the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is the world’s first jaguar preserve – although you’ll have to venture out at night if you want to spot (pardon the pun) one. Keep your eyes peeled for tapir, deer, ocelots, toucans and howler monkeys in the meantime, and enjoy the splash of the waterfalls and glimpses of ancient Mayan ruins. Between February and April, travel south-west to Red Bank and if you’re lucky you might spot a rare scarlet macaw.
If you’re a water-lover like me, head out to Laughing Bird Caye. Ribboned with the world-famous reef and full of caves, it’s perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving for starfish, sponges and a rainbow of reef fish. Sail out a bit farther and you’ll find mackerel, kingfish, wahoo, tuna, sailfish and marlin. Head back to dry land to see brown pelicans, green herons, blackbirds, and maybe even a laughing gull.
There’s nothing to gladden your spirits like a visit to Gladden Spit, where April and May bring whale shark diving opportunities. If you’re the brave type, head north and venture down into the famous Belize Blue Hole, made famous by Jacques Cousteau. You’ll swim with hammerheads, huge groupers, sea turtles, parrotfish, angelfish, butterfly fish and more.
Well, now I’m inspired to go for a paddle, and maybe catch some rays (the sunny type, of course – manatees are vegetarian)!
Sea you next time!