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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