Monday, May 2, 2016

Blue Hole, Red Footed Booby

I promised to share about our time in the jungle, but first I must back up to the day Ted and I dove the famous Blue Hole. It rarely happens, but on  this day the diving wasn't the highlight.

Belize's Blue Hole was first explored by Jacques Cousteau. It's 400 feet deep. Essentially a limestone sinkhole, it formed when the ceiling of an ancient limestone cave system collapsed. From above the color of the water is enticing. 

Photo Credit: Belize.com

From below, though, it's just water. You drop in like a rock and it's 0 to 135 feet down in 60 seconds. It's pretty dark at that depth. There are stalactites to swim through for about 7 minutes. The next 20 minutes are spent slowly ascending, to breathe out the nitrogen the water pressure has smushed into your bloodstream. 

Meh. 

A thirty minute dive to see a few stalactites? I'll take corals and sea creatures for an hour instead, please. 


But a reward approaches in the shape of a little motorboat! It will take us to the Bird Sanctuary at nearby Half Moon Caye for the hours we must wait before diving again.

Red Footed Boobies use this caye as a major nesting area. Magnificent Frigate birds are also in abundance. The walk to the sanctuary was tropical - sweaty, sandy, and shadowed by stately palms. Shells scuttled in the debris on either side of the path. On closer inspection each one had a large hermit crab inside!



My what big claws you have!

Lizards and iguanas were rustling amid the leaves and coconuts too.

A helpful viewing platform provides a nest-level view of the Red Footed Boobies. I took photos under the relentless midday sun for as long as I could stand the heat. Watching the frigates swoop and soar, the chicks with their mothers, and the boobies on nests panting in the heat distracted me from the sweat soaking my shirt. 

Red Footed Booby chicks wait for their next meal to arrive.

Such handsome red feet!
Red Footed Boobies prefer to nest in the Orange-flowered Ziricote tree. These pretty flowers are in some of my photos.

This booby had built her nest just a few feet from the viewing platform! Can you see the chick under her tummy?

The birds seemed oblivious to the tourists on the platform. Frigate birds bickered and courted with the red sacs on their throats. It was noisy but surprisingly not smelly. 




According to the Belize Audubon Society, the frigates and boobies get along pretty well in the nesting area. 

Panting hard, the mother booby seems to endure the heat as wearily as we do.

At sea, though, there are conflicts. The boobies dive for fish or squid which they immediately swallow. As they return to the nest they are attacked by the frigate birds, who hope to force them to regurgitate their meal so the frigates can eat it! So the relationship between the frigates and the red footed boobies is called kleptoparasitism.



Next post:  a visit to the jungle and the Mayan city of Tikal.


13 comments:

  1. so many fascinating creatures

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    1. That's what I love best about traveling to new places :)

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  2. Wow, what wonderful pictures and info!! I never knew about the Frigates being so darn mean to the Boobies!!

    Thanks for letting e cross the Blue Hole off of my "list of things to dive" :-)

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    1. It's just my opinion but yes, it was the least interesting dive I've done. Kind of like a quarry I guess.

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  3. Oh wow, what a BEAUTIFUL place and you got some GREAT photos, thank you fur sharing them, I luffs it!
    Loves and licky kisses
    Princess Leah xxx

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    1. I borrowed our son's telephoto lens for the trip and it made a big difference in our bird pics ;) Thanks for visiting Princess Leah!

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  4. A beautiful and informative post. That's what I like about the internet, so many interesting people and places.

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  5. So Beautiful... and you got to see HERMIT Crabs... that would excite Sarge and HIS Crabby Girrrrls a LOT.

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  6. Oh, I'd love to go to Belize some day. (Although no diving for me! That water doesn't look enticing at all to me! Just deep, dark and scary! I'll stick with snorkeling. :))

    Those booby chicks are the cutest! What a fun adventure!

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  7. what a fantastic place to visit to place and awesome pictures - that blue hole reminds me of the Blue Lake at Mt Gambier in South Australia - every year between November and February it turns a vivid turquoise color and no one knows why - got to see it in person and it was awesome :)

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  8. Hi Y'all!

    What fantastic photos. Love the booby chicks in their nests.

    Y'all come on by,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

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  9. Hi Y'all!

    What fantastic photos. Love the booby chicks in their nests.

    Y'all come on by,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

    ReplyDelete

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