The adventure began shortly after sunrise today, as the guests onboard National Geographic Sea Lion embarked on Zodiacs to explore Monkey River. It was an overcast day and as we eagerly anticipated, the black (Yucatan) howler monkeys did not disappoint. A few troops were spotted high up in the trees, and a welcome surprise was Belize’s national bird, the keel–billed toucan. Just before it was time to turn around and head back, our Monkey River guide directed us under the canopy of an inga edulis tree hanging over the river, where a small group of five white-lined sac-winged bats were well camouflaged against the bark of the tree. At that point, a slight drizzle had started and prompted us to head back to the ship. As we moved away from the coast and back to the ship, we were able to see some of the coastal erosion affecting the residents of this seaside community. After a delicious brunch onboard, it was time to prepare for the afternoon’s activity, snorkeling at Laughingbird Caye National Park.
The snorkel guides were awaiting our arrival as the Zodiacs pulled up on the beach and guest got geared up to head into the water. As we snorkeled past huge coral castles, home to so many fishes and other sea creatures, everyone had a wonderful afternoon. Grunts, parrotfish, angelfish, butterflyfish and many species of snappers peeked out from among swaying soft corals, crevices in the massive boulder corals, and under the Elkhorn corals. Thousands of silversides moved in unison along the shores where brown pelicans plunge dived to feast on them. Onshore, guests enjoyed exploring the beach for treasures washed up by the gentle waves and all left the island with treasured memories of another day in paradise.