Half Moon Caye Natural Monument, Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Belize

Feb 22, 2018 - National Geographic Quest

Greetings from aboard the National Geographic Quest! Today was an exciting and breezy day. Winds were from the east for most of the day and although we did get a few short showers, they interspersed with sunny skies. The Bird Tower is a big favorite and today did not disappoint. 4000 red footed booby birds were estimated to live in this colony on the last census in Dec 2017. Four thousand! The downy babies that were closely guarded by one of the parents last week, have doubled in size and are now big enough to be left alone in the nest while both parents fly off to the surrounding Caribbean Sea to find food. In the background the constant clicking, clucking and numerous sounds from the male magnificent frigatebirds escalates momentarily as a female circles slowly scoping out the candidates. She leaves, unimpressed by their efforts and inflated bright red gular pouches. At the base of the tower, the sign draws the attention of the guests as they wait to take their turn on the observation platform. But it’s not what the sign says that they are looking at but instead, it’s what is crawling on the sign – a dark brown lizard. No, wait…it’s green, it’s changing color as we’re looking at it! Allison’s anole is a species of lizard endemic to Lighthouse Reef. Another bird seen today from the Bird Tower was a beautiful white-crowned pigeon. Birders and non-birders alike walked down from the observation platform smiling and fascinated by the sounds and sights seen in the branches of the ziricote trees in the littoral forest on Half Moon Caye.

At the other end of the island, on the east side and just behind the protection of the reef crest, the snorkelers were also seeing wonderful things. The favorites were the very colorful parrotfish – stoplight, princess, redfin, yellowtail and queen!  Like swimming in an aquarium!

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About the Author

Luz Hunter

Cultural Specialist

Luz was born and raised in Belize City along with two brothers and six sisters. As a child she always felt the need to protect animals, both wild and domestic. Alternating summers between grandparents on the cayes and in the bush brought her very close to nature and she soon realized that the hardest part of going back to school was sitting down…indoors. One thing led to another and by 1980, Luz was “guiding” people around the reefs near Ambergris Caye and Lighthouse Reef. 

About the Photographer

José Calvo

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Nicknamed “Indio” (Indian) because of his powers of observation and quiet nature, José has almost two decades of experience working as a naturalist and photography guide; as well as being recognized as an expert birder and nature photographer in Costa Rica. Costa Rica is rich in biodiversity — over 893 bird species have been recorded in the country. Since very young José spent all of his free time in the outdoors in the forest, where he soon fell in love with the birds. He particularly enjoys listening to their calls, and watching their behavior. Oddly enough, another one of Jose’s passions is science and technology, and because of this, he was among the first in Costa Rica to experiment with digital photography. As the technology quickly improved so did his love for it.  He truly believes that nature photography is the perfect combination of both of his passions.

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