On April 30, 2011 the traditional canoe race from Iguana Creek Bridge to the Agriculture Show took place and staff members John Searle, Jamani Balderamos and Paul Hyde participated in this event. John is a member of the Belize Canoe Association and he was able to get SMART, a local phone company, to sponsor the entire race! SMART has adopted this race and will provide support each year in the form of advertising, printing of t-shirts and stickers, prizes and prize money. This year a total of 13 canoes entered, this is one more than last year, so hopefully this is a sign that the race will become more popular each year.
John’s team oi the beautiful wooden canoe Watt-A-Ting, came in 4th Male and 6th Overall. Paddling in the stern was John, in the middle was Sea Sports Captain Paul Hyde, and La Ruta Male Champ, Chris Guydis from Burrel Boom, was in the bow. Watt-A-Ting had a good start and were 3rd under the Iguana Creek Bridge. They reached the finish line at the Agriculture Show in 2:33:24, only 13 min and 2 seconds behind the lead boat, Belize Bank. This was the first time in a long time that John’s team entered the Male category, and coming in 4th was pretty good! Normally all team paddlers are over 40 and so they enter the Master’s category and compete against the Grumpy Old Men, who came in 27 minutes behind Watt-a-Ting in this race.
Jamani Balderamos was paddling with Cayo students and came in 12th overall at 3:20:01. They ranked 3rd in the Pleasure Category and won $50 and a trophy! At the award’s ceremony SMART representative Anthony Mahler awarded the trophy and prize money.
It was a great day on the river and the next race will be up north along the New River and will showcase the Maya ruins of Lamanai and Cerros.
Please welcome two new PADI Open Water Divers to the world of diving! Connor and Ben Searle were visiting Belize for the long Easter weekend with their family and became the newest Open Water Divers with Sea Sports Belize!
After completing the Open Water Course with their Uncle John, Ben and Connor Searle along with their Dad, Tom Searle (John’s youngest brother who’s a doctor in St. Augustine, Florida), helped manage lionfish at popular dive sites visited by Sea Sports Belize on the Belize Barrier Reef. After a day of practicing and letting several lionfish off the hook, they honed their skills and were able to catch 4 lionfish. The lionfish were stored in a clear dry bag during the dive, and after returning to the boat they were transfered into a bucket.
Connor Searle captured the smallest lionfish, which is obviously darker in color than the others. The two smaller lionfish will be on display at the National Agriculture and Trade Show that will be held in Belmopan this weekend. That the lionfish survive after being speared shows how resilient they are. The larger ones were cleaned and will be cooked up at the show. The Belize Fisheries Department and ECOMAR work together on promoting the management of lionfish in Belize and the Searle’s from St. Augustine were happy to assist!
Photo Linda Searle
On April 13, 2011 two manatees and two sea turtles were observed during a 45 minute snorkel tour on the Belize Barrier Reef! Turtles are exciting to see on any visit to the reef, but seeing a manatee, or two manatees is an exceptional experience. Also witness to the magnificent sightings were the Manfredis from California. They were in Belize visiting the St. Gerorge’s Caye Research Station so they can participate in assisting in documenting the sites where the endangered West Indian manatee exists. It is a rare opportunity to snorkel with manatees on the coral reef!
Photo Linda Searle
It is hoped that one day we can offer the habitat of the manatee greater protection from boats and the propellors that are having a grave impact on their numbers in the Belize City area. The endangered West Indian manatee has five strongholds left in Belize. One of them is the Belize City area that extends from the reef through the Swallow Caye Marine Reserve to the Belize River. Sea Sports Belize’s affiliate ECOMAR is working to establish a corridor for manatees so hopefully there will be less manatee deaths as a result of the increased protection.
In March 2011 ECOMAR launched the Belize Turtle Watch program to assess baseline populations of sea turtles feeding and nesting in Belize. Khristina Bonham is a University of Exeter student gathering scientific data to complete her Master’s degree and helping ECOMAR launch the In-water Observation portion of the project which utlizes observations made by divers, snorkelers and boat captains. Khristina has been out diving with Sea Sports on their dive trips and have sighted several turtles. The project aims to assess abundance of turtles so that changes in numbers can be measured over time.
Check back for updates on the number of turtles we encounter on our dive sites!
The reason we dive is to explore the underwater world and observe marine life naturally. When a pod of dolphins joins you on a dive it is a very special experience.
This doesn’t happen this often, but recently we have been seeing a lot of dolphins on our dives. John saw one dolphin on February 8, 2011 with the Chandlers at The Lounge, South Gallow’s, Belize Barrier Reef, then recently Jamani and divers encountered a pod of spinner dolphins at The Lounge. Encountering any kind of dolphin while diving along the reef is rare, encountering spotted dolphins, well I just wish I had been diving that day! Here are the pictures from the 6 or 8 or so dolphins from our most recent encounter on March 2, 2011.
Jamani Balderamos, dive instructor at Sea Sports Belize, got these amazing underwater shots of the dolphin encounter he and our other lucky divers experienced on March 2, 2011 at The Chute near Sergeant’s Caye on the magnificent Belize Barrier Reef.
Please follow this link to a video he made of the dolphins! Many thanks to Steve Brown for the underwater footage too and for choosing to dive with Sea Sports Belize every time he visits Belize!
Jamani and a group of very lucky divers encountered 9 spotted dolphins while diving at The Lounge on Feb 17, 2011. The dolphins were very curious and stayed around for 15 minutes! This must have beena spectacular sighting and I hope our divers will share the pictures they took very soon!
John “Pooh” Gongora was culling lionfish today at Turneffe Atoll where he captured 8 large (14″+ total length) lionfish to eat and one lionfish he captured was eaten by a Nassau grouper! Rumor is there is a photo of some fins sticking out of the groupers mouth and we hope to post them by tomorrow. John was leading dives for Turneffe Flats when he fed the lionfish to the grouper at the popular dive site at Grand Bogue. Keep up the good work Pooh and Flats!
This photo was actually taken by Lyle Gremillion in 2010 in the Bahamas. We are waiting for the photo from Belize from the diver that stayed at Turneffe Flats! As soon as we receive we will post it here!
Today we had divers and snorkelers and went to Sergeant’s Caye and it was an amazing day! The divers visited Princess Palace and The Chute while our snorkelers were touring the shallow reefs around Sergeant’s Caye.
The divers saw about 10 lionfish on each dive, moray eels, garden eels and lobster, a neck crab (cool!) and also banded coral shrimp.
The snorkelers hit the jackpot and saw an adult loggerhead turtle. This must have been an amazing site, I knew I should have gone on the trip today!
…and purchase a calendar from Sea Turtle Conservancy! This calendar is published by the former Caribbean Conservation Corps and includes photographs of sea turtles from all over the world.
September is a special month for us as a photo taken by Linda Searle is the month of September, where we have many celebrations in Belize including St. George’s Caye Day on Sep 10th, Independence Day on Sep 21, and John Searle’s birthday is Sep 22. We will enjoy celebrating these events with our very own sea turtle from Belize adorning this month. FYI this same hawksbill turtle debuted on our Facebook page where it was shown devouring a loggerhead sponge.
Follow the link below to the website where you can purchase your own calendar and support sea turtle conservation!
or this link to a pdf file with the calendar!
This is September!