Sunday, January 5, 2014

Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley - Blake's Visit Day 1

Today we planned to take a snorkel trip with El Amigos del Mar dive shop to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley.  You need a guide to take you to the park and I heard it was an excellent experience.  We ate a quick lunch at the Blue Water Grill after some quick provisioning, and headed over the dive shop. 

Our guide, Barbuda, I think that was his name, was excellent!  It was a short 15 minute boat ride to the reserve.  Once we arrived, our captain checked in with the Ranger and gave him the $10 voucher to enter the park.  We then tied the boat to a mooring ball, and hopped into the water.  There was 7 of us in the group, so we did our best to follow him, as he pointed out different animals.  We saw a turtle, nurse sharks, moray eels, many stingrays and skates, and a couple of spotted eagle rays, one of my favorite animals. 
Hawksbill Turtle 

Moray Eel

Moray Eel

Spotted Grouper

A couple of times Barbuda would dive down and a large moray eel would come to him and he would feed it a small fish, and sometimes he would pick it up!  Once I dove down with my camera, and the eel came right up to my camera and face, looking for a handout! 

We all had a good trip, but we were tired, as we swam a lot!  I think mom was really tired, as we had to fight a small current at times, plus try to keep up with Barbuda!

My favorite marine animal in Belize, the spotted eagle ray.
We then headed over to Shark and Ray Alley!  It was only about 5 minutes away, and part of the Marine Reserve.
Blake ready for Shark Ray Alley
Once we arrived a large number of nurse sharks and rays came to the boat!  We then quickly jumped into the water, while our captain was throwing chum to the sharks!  What?  He wanted us to jump into a shark feeding frenzy?  As we entered he water we were surrounded by large nurse sharks and rays!

I was greeted by a large nurse shark when I jumped into the water!  Yikes!

 Nurse Sharks in a feeding frenzy!
Of course, Blake jumped right in and petted the first shark that swam by!!!

  One of the guys in our group caught a 6 foot nurse shark and turned it over upside down making it go to sleep.  He then handed it to Blake, who struggled trying to hold such a large shark.  It was an incredible experience for him, and we got some nice photos of the experience. 

There was also a large skate that liked for you to rub him between his eyes.  Of course, Blake had to write his name on his back with his finger!  Too funny!!! 

Video of Blake finishing his name on the skate
Once the food ran out, the sharks were fast in moving to a new boat.  So we headed back to the dock having had an excellent day snorkeling.  We were all exhausted when arriving back to MokaKat, and relaxed for awhile.
For dinner, I finally fired up the BBQ grill.   We had some charcoal and large steaks from Guatemala.  The steaks were excellent and we couldn't eat any more! 

We then watched Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase outside in the cockpit.  This movie is still funny, even though I watch it every year! 

It was a perfect night with a nice breeze and no bugs!  Wow, what a great day!  Happy Sailing!!!

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