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Sanibel Sea School hosts expedition to Belize

August 14, 2018
Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

Sanibel Sea School campers recently embarked on a 10-day expedition to Belize.

Participants ages 15-18 spent three days in the rainforest before venturing to a field station on South Water Caye to explore the Belize Barrier Reef and its surrounding habitats. Belize is a small Caribbean nation in Central America.

Upon arrival, the group boarded a bus for the six-hour ride to Blue Creek, a small Mayan village near the country's southern border. They stayed in rustic accommodations and learned about the plants, animals and people that call the area home.

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Sanibel Sea School campers visit Belize to learn about rainforests and coral reef ecosystems.

"A local shaman led us on a hike through the forest and showed us the plants traditionally used to treat different ailments, such as snake bites, dizziness and fever," Emily Roudebush said.

Campers also went snorkeling in a cave, tasted local delicacies like fry jacks, and visited Mayan ruins.

"One morning we looked for howler monkeys and were able to hear them, but it started pouring rain, so unfortunately we didn't get to see one up close," Roudebush said.

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After a few nights in the humid jungle, often with large spiders as roommates, everyone was ready to travel to their next destination. South Water Caye is a marine reserve surrounded by mangrove islands, healthy seagrass flats, and beautiful coral reefs.

Participants had multiple opportunities to snorkel each day, and many saw spotted eagle rays, sea turtles, moray eels, parrotfish, bonefish and much more. Each camper was asked to study and present about one species in the evening and to complete a creative project of their choice during the week.

Other highlights from the expedition included a night snorkel with sightings of squid, plankton, shrimp and octopuses, exciting game nights, and a colorful holi powder ceremony to celebrate the high school seniors who are graduating from The Sanibel Sea School this year.

"This is really designed as our capstone program," Director of Education Nicole Finnicum said. "We take a deeper dive into coral reef ecology and conservation, and we try to incorporate everything the campers have learned with us. Many of them have been attending our programs since they were young children and have built up quite a bit of knowledge."

The Sanibel Sea School is a non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the ocean's future, one person at a time. For more information about the organization, visit sanibelseaschool.org.

The Sanibel Sea School is at 455 Periwinkle Way.

 
 

 

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