There have been many people or organizations whom have assisted me in my research in Belize since 2008. And it’s always been fun meeting locals who notice that I’m not some ordinary “Gringo” (here in Belize I’m considered and called a Gringo since I am an American)- I guess my clipboard and binoculars give it away that I’m not just in Belize for vacation. It’s been great educating those who I talk to, as well as BEING educated by the community. Hearing the history of my location sites, the local wildlife folklore, the current environmental and conservation management plans etc., gives a new meaning to what I’m researching, and how to translate my research that can assist in future conservation management of the crocodilian habitats I am currently investigating.
Sunday, my team and I ended our survey at Candy Cove which is on the west side of the island of Ambergris Caye. The majority of the west side of the island is untouched by development and ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS!!! Personally, it is what I imagine when I think of the Caribbean island paradise stereotype. And it is great to hear how so many local San Pedranos are fighting to keep that side of the island pristine and healthy. To get to many of these locations, boat is the only option. Our boat captain to Candy Cove, as well as to Laguna Cayo de Frances, was Omar Arceo, which I later found out is also known as Dr. of the Flats. His family has been living on the island for generations- one of the oldest families on the island. Not only is he one of the happiest men I have ever met, but he is also one the most amazing environmentalist I have ever met! His knowledge of the island, both political and environmental, is outstanding, and he is an encyclopedia for ALL flora and fauna on and around the island. Not to mention he is a world-class fly fisherman! His presence and knowledge during my research excursions assisted us tremendously, and it’s people like Omar Arceo that keep me positive about the work I am doing, as well as make my job so much more enjoyable!
I’ve been very lucky to come across many Belizeans like Omar Arceo, and it is meeting wonderful people like him that makes me want to work 110% harder and ensure that my science can be used to make a positive difference for conservation awareness and management for the local communities here in Belize.
For anyone looking to go fishing while visiting Ambergris Caye, give Omar a call (011-501-226-3518)- I promise you will have a blast!!!!