Thumbs Up for the Blenny.

Toothless and tiny but with oh so much character this little spiny head blenny is so funny to watch.  Always darting in and out to eat a morsel of plankton its antics are almost comical.  If you hang around it will become comfortable with you and stick out of its worm hole.  Being so tiny it needs to be ever so watchful; notice how it rolls those big eyes, in the photo below, to keep tabs on what is going on around it.  Notice something else in the first photo.  The coral looks similar to a human hand and thumb, complete with fingernail, which adds even more character to the photo.  Thumbs up for the blenny!

Belize - Off the Beaten Path With Alia and Brandon

Mary and I had the pleasure to dive with Alia Statham and Brandon Hill on the Sun Dancer II in Belize.  As we boarded the flight home Alia and Brandon were heading off on another adventure in a remote village in southern Belize.  Called a "home stay" you live for a few days with a family, eating their meals, sleeping in their house and learning about each other.

Brandon wrote me an e-mail of their experience that is both funny and informative so I asked Brandon if I could share it on my site.   These are the experiences that separate a traveler from a tourist.  Mary and I are enriched by meeting folks like Alia and Brandon and we hope you enjoy the story of their Belize "home stay" experience.

Color of Emotion

Little is known about the color patterns of the octopus. They will change their color and shape to hide from predators. A close observation tells us that some patterns seem to display emotion as in this photograph. Is it fear, bravado or surrender? Who knows, but we do know that the octopus displays intelligence so perhaps this is their communication to us but we are not intelligent enough to understand it.

Radisson Pier Belize City After Hurricane Richard

Our Sunday afternoon meal was interrupted by the General Manager of the Radisson Hotel in Belize City with an announcement that Tropical Storm Richard had indeed turned in to a Category 1 Hurricane and was headed directly for Belize City.  He expected it to reach the Radisson around 3pm and gave us a briefing on what to expect.

To our surprise the restaurant was full of people as a group heading to Turneffe Island was forced to take refuge in the hotel.  As soon as the General Manager began speaking a buzz of conversation filled the room and folks started heading to the buffet to take food to their room.  You would have thought this was their last meal as the buffet was cleaned out in a matter of minutes and everyone dispersed quickly to their rooms.

Hello Lionfish - Goodbye Reef?

Consider that in 2003 Mary and I stayed a Lighthouse Reef Resort in Belize and did not spot one lionfish in over twenty dives and then in 2005 and again not one lionfish, yet, last week in 3 ½ days of diving aboard the Sun Dancer II we spotted over 50.

Mary and I observed that the lionfish has a tendency to huddle and hunt in groups of three to four. The group will pin their prey with their pectoral fins before swallowing them whole. Recent research by Dr. Mark Hixon and his team from Oregon State University with support from NOAA’s Undersea Research Program (NURP) found that lionfish reduce the net recruitment of coral reef fishes by an estimated 80%. The consequences to the Caribbean eco-system cannot be overemphasized. Dr. Hixon’s team observed one lionfish eating 20 small wrasses during a 30 minute period. Recent studies have disclosed that the small fish that are consumed by the lionfish, (stomach content analysis has documented predation of cleaner fish), if reduced significantly will impact the abundance of reef fish by one-fourth and diversity by one-half.