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Belize: The Belize Barrier Reef

Growing up, one of my grandest dreams was to eventually snorkel and/or dive in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.  That dream may still be a little far off as far as accomplishing it goes, but while we were in Belize, I got to do the next best thing — snorkel in the Belize Barrier Reef.

The Belize Barrier Reef is the second largest coral reef system after the Great Barrier Reef and has been designated a World Heritage Site.  I’m told it’s the most protected and untouched reef system in the world which is believable since the population in this area isn’t quite as large as it is in Australia.  It’s so large, in fact, that apparently 90% of it has yet to be researched.
Our journey starts on the beach of our resort where a captain and a guide take us out to sea by boat.  We drove out 14 miles from shore and found ourselves among clear, blue waters and peacefully, scattered islands.  Once we were on the reef, the depth was probably just 6 feet deep.

Snorkels on, fins on.  We jumped right in!  I opted to get a floatie because I was worried I would get tired without one considering I was carrying Baby R around with me.  Being in the water (not to mention really salty water) made me feel weightless, but I didn’t want to risk it.  It really helped a lot though when we had to pass through currents.

We saw SO many beautiful fish in so many different colors.  It was like swimming in my dad’s old aquariums where he would build a reef, and I would learn the names of all of the fish.  I’m always reminded of my dad when we snorkel.  He’s the reason why I love sea life so much.

Our guide Denton would swim down constantly to point out different critters, then we would see him at the surface where he would tell us the name of the animal and any interesting fact.  It was pretty cool as this guy was an expert!

Hubby tried to make a few dives himself to see if he could spot some cool fishies.  I stayed at the surface as recommended by doctors and just watched him enjoy the sea.

In the picture below, you can definitely see some of the damage that has happened.  I asked the captain about this, and he said it’s mostly due to the storms that they have.  Some say it could be due to global warming and therefore coral bleaching.  It was a little sad, but I hope it finds the ability to rebuild itself.

On a few occasions, Denton would go down and scoop up a sea critter for us to touch and hold.  We got to hold live conch, sea urchins, and the sea cucumber you see here!  He was like a giant caterpillar…

After about an hour of adventuring in the water, we stopped at South Water Caye which was a small and quiet island.  Here we got to eat some freshly chopped watermelon and pineapples as well as some cookies.  We were here for about half an hour so we just wandered around.  It was so beautiful and peaceful.  Reminded me of our honeymoon.  Loved all the Caribbean colors too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

While we were just relaxing on the sand, this cute momma dog came up and licked the hand of one of our fellow snorkelers.  His reaction was hilarious because he definitely wasn’t expecting it!  After she got a few scratches on the head, she just laid down and rested near us.  So cute.  A sweet dog living the good ol’ island life.

Once we were all rested up, we got back in the boat and was dropped off in a different area of the reef where the water was probably more like 15-20 feet deep. Here we saw a wide array of larger animals.

There’s a barracuda in the image below!  Reminded me of the barracuda at the beginning of Finding Nemo.  Kind of a sad thought, but he acted just like it too.  We saw a few bigger ones after this.

 

 

 

 

We saw squirrelfish, so many different types of coral, and even an octopus!  The fish above is a cowfish.  He was huge.  My dad used to have these guys in his aquarium too, but they were never much bigger than the size of my thumb.  This guy was about the size of my whole hand.  We saw several different majestic angelfish too.  It was really amazing.  Oh, and plenty of little jellyfish which we were told were completely harmless.  Call me crazy, but I really wished that we could have seen a shark. You know, a gentle one like a nurse shark.  Some friends we made at the resort went to the reef the day after us, and they said they got to see one!  Lucky…

My snorkel goggles kept fogging up even though the same solution was used on both of ours to prevent fogging.  Haha.  It’s okay because I was able to see the amazing reef just fine!

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