Dangriga, 4 March 2007
I'm back from a couple of weeks at Half Moon Caye. What a beautiful place! I am still blown away by the colours of the sea. We had a great trip: the people were fun, the weather was warm and sunny, though a bit windy at times, and the fish were most cooperative. We saw many sharks and rays and even a couple of turtles. In fact, this year I have seen more turtles than the previous three years combined.
Lighthouse Reef has two protected areas, guarded by the Belize Audubon Society. This NGO has some very hard-working and dedicated people. This last trip there was only one BAS staff on the island and some commercial fishermen took advantage of that fact. One form of commercial fishing common in Belize is a homemade wooden sailboat, up to about 30 feet in length. On board the boat is a stack of dories; small boats, either of fibreglass or dugouts. When the boat gets to a good location, it is anchored and each fisherman takes a dory. They will paddle to a patch reef or turtlegrass bed and jump overboard with mask, snorkel and fins. As they swim along, they will spear fish, pick up conch, and hook lobsters from under the corals.
The fishermen are allowed to fish in the unprotected areas, but will often sneak in to the protected areas if no one is patrolling. Our BAS Park Ranger asked us for a little help to go out and chase them away, so we sent two guides to ride shotgun (figuratively speaking) and warn the fishers away. They got nothing but scorn from the fishermen, so they came back and called the Coast Guard. Before dark, the Coast Guard was there and had rounded up four boats, each with as many as eight fishermen and boys aboard. The following photos show the boats at the dock at Half Moon Caye, along with a large motor skiff belonging to the Belize Coast Guard.
As a follow-up to my botfly entry, I finally managed to remove my little pet. I tried using duct tape to seal off its air supply, but the location so close to my knee resulted in a fold or crease forming some time during the night. I must have killed it the second time I tried, but it wasn't sticking out the hole at all, and the snake venom extractor I was using didn't convince it to come out. Finally, when I tried it one evening last week, it started to protrude from the hole. A few guests were still up and were quite intrigued at the sight of an insect larva (technically a maggot) emerging from my leg.
I took a few photos. The first is the extractor. The suction on that thing is intense! It left quite a dimple on my leg as you can see. In the next photo, you can see it emerging. Then once it was partway out, I used a (borrowed) pair of tweezers (thank you Carole and the makers of Tweezerman) to pull it out. The last picture is of the larva lying beside the hole from which it was removed. Note the rows of hooks around the thickest part of the body. The hooks are what held it inside me and it was their squirming around at night that I could feel. But it is out now.
Jack and Squirmy