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Studying the Queen Conch Pt. 2: First Impressions

[Missed part 1? Click here]

Cedar Crest College faculty and students have been undertaking a research project involving the sustainability of the Queen Conch in Belize for the last six years led by John Cigliano, associate professor of biology, and Rich Kliman, professor of biology. This is the second in a series of short articles written by Kenzie Bickhart, a senior biodiversity and conservation biology major, who participated in the research project earlier this month.

Kenzi Bickhart
Descending into Belize

First Impressions

After traveling to Puerto Rico with Dr. Cigliano as part of his marine ecology course over winter break, I was excited when I was asked to join the team for research in Belize. I heard many good things from friends who had gone on the trip previously.

As the plane began descending into Belize, I could see so much green, contrary to flying over all the cities in the U.S. I was thrilled to see the beautiful landscape out my window; it was a nice change.

DolphinsAfter a day of staying on the mainland, the group headed out to Lime Caye (pronounced key) on a boat. On our ride out we saw a pod of common dolphins; they played back and forth under our boat. There was a young dolphin, which stayed right next to its mother. This was a good start to the trip.

We finally made it to the Caye and were introduced to Dennis, the reserve manager. Peter is on the island as a handyman and Miss Sondra, Dennis’s mom, runs the show, and cooks wonderful meals. Two boys were also on the island, Kylan and Israel, nicknamed Dingo. They come out and stay for a week or so. I wish I had an island I could just go to and hang out!

I cannot get over how clear the water is. The water can be over eight-feet deep and the bottom is clearly visible. The fish are so beautiful, too. There is not as much diversity in the fish species as there was in Puerto Rico but that being said, there are still a lot of fish. We saw many cool things, like a yellow stingray, and some not so cool things, such as a large lionfish, which are beginning to take over the Caribbean.

Getting to see places like this make me excited to think about a career in marine conservation.

Cedar Crest Students in Belize