What a day! After a full day on land yesterday, we were all eager to get in the water and see some good stuff today. Upon arrival to West Snake Caye, part of Port Honduras Marine Reserve, the wind was from the west. Within a half hour, it turned from the south. Although the waves came in at an angle, it didn’t stop us from snorkeling. Our Belizean snorkel guides were ready and waiting, and we used their three boats to separate into advanced, intermediate, and beginner groups. We went to the leeward side of the island, where we observed and photographed soft corals, hard corals, fish, and marine invertebrates. A couple intrepid kayakers ventured out. They stuck to the calmest corner and had a very relaxing time in the shallows near the mangroves, which is an ecosystem unto its own.

By noon, we returned to the ship for lunch. We changed anchorage to position the ship closer to the labyrinth of Payne’s Creek mangrove forest. Before setting out by kayak or Zodiac, we enjoyed learning from a great visitor. Augustin Cho, a ranger from Payne’s Creek National Park, joined us on board to explain the park’s important role in the conservation of the diverse habitats found in this part of Payne’s Creek National Park.

The afternoon found us traveling under a very light mist. The temperature was perfect. Explorations of the mangrove were varied. We observed spotted eagle rays feeding off oysters on red mangrove roots, boat-billed herons nesting on small islets, and clumps of red mangroves.

With the quiet and gentle weather and almost no wind (an anomaly these days), I had trouble convincing the kayakers it was time to come in. No one was ready for the adventure to end, but daylight was fading.