Lime Caye and Laughingbird Caye, Belize

Mar 13, 2018 - National Geographic Quest

As we traveled north and east from our port in Guatemala, Santo Tomas de Castilla, the skies looked treacherous and the winds kicked up a bit. Crowned by dark clouds, we saw Lime Caye in the distance, beckoning.  But, it was not meant to be. We scouted the beach and determined that with the change in wind direction and the rollers coming ashore from the northwest, our guests would not be safe disembarking the Zodiacs nor snorkeling. A destination closer to the mainland and further north was recommended, and so northward we sailed. Approaching Laughingbird Caye National Park, the gods of sun and wind smiled, the dark skies cleared and it quickly turned into a sunny day with light winds.

Zodiacs ferried adventurous guests from National Geographic Quest to shore; they geared up quickly and off they went, into the clear Caribbean Sea. Divers descended off the outer edge of the faroe (shelf atoll), while snorkelers explored nearshore patch reefs from the surface. Returning snorkelers and divers smiled as they described encounters and asked questions. Caribbean Reef Octopus, colorful Caribbean reef fish and the diversity in soft and hard corals were topics of discussion between guests, guides and staff. On shore, some guests who had opted to remain dry enjoyed the breezes from hammocks, some strolled the coral rubble and sand beaches and others enjoyed an ice-cold beer.

Along with National Geographic Quest guests, other friends were also visitors to this island. At the edge of the water, eight pairs of reddish orange legs determinedly ran just above the waves. These tiny little birds periodically dipped their tiny, upward curved bills under the seaweed or flipping over small chunks of coral rubble looking for a tasty morsel. Ruddy turnstones travel long distances from breeding grounds in the Arctic tundra coastlines to tropical over-wintering grounds. In a few weeks, beautiful, bright rufous and black breeding plumage will replace their drab winter coats and off they will go, on a journey of thousands of miles. Wishing our little feathered friends safe travels to the top of the world.

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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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