Millions around the world have been viewing the Today Show’s Ends of the Earth series focusing on environmental areas susceptible to climate change. Today co-host Matt Lauer, in part two of a series on Belize, was reporting live from Half Moon Caye, about 20 minutes from the Blue Hole where he was on Monday. Here are some highlights of the positive image of Belize which will hopefully attract good tourism dollars.
Matt Lauer, Today Show
“That’s a live shot of Half Moon Caye from up above, a beautiful spot at the southern end of the lighthouse reef atoll and our location for day two of the Ends of the Earth. Really pretty, the waters around us and they’re also a living laboratory for researchers from all around the world. Yesterday, I had a chance opportunity to catch up with members from one research team and they are operating from on a small island not far from here.”
Glover’s Reef, named for a pirate who one looted the waters, is home to a research centre dedicated to conserving its treasures.
Way back in the 1970’s a group of world renowned scientists identified Glover’s Reef as the best place in the Caribbean to set up a research centre.
Owned and operated by the Wildlife Conservation Society, the facility is devoted entirely to studying our changing oceans. Alex Tilly is the resident scientist.”
Alex Tilly, Resident Scientist, Glover’s Reef
“This research station is here to provide a constant presence on the atolls so that we can continually gather data on the abundance of species and the health of the reef. So we’re measuring and tagging conch, lobster, turtles, things like that to gauge what their population is like. Those are indicators for the health of the system generally”
With their focus on water and conservation, the staff practices what they preach.”
“We gather rain water for our usage because there’s no natural fresh water for usage here.”
That ingenuity stems from, well, other aspects of everyday life.
“I have to confess it’s been a long time since I visited someone anywhere and they said “have you seen our toilet?”. So you’re obviously proud of this thing. Why don’t you describe it a little bit for me?”
“Sure, it’s what you call a combusting toilet. So it’s completely dry system and it’s mixed with just sawdust. And we turn it over with the sawdust and it becomes odorless and it’s recycled when we use it for plant nutrients.”
Extreme as this may seem to some, we’re soon reminded of why they’re needed.
“This is northern Two Caye about 50 miles off the coast of Belize and we had a bad storm here over the last 36 hours. When the wind stopped blowing and the sea stopped turning, this was what had washed ashore. Now this is Belize, not some urban beach in the United States. So if we treat our oceans like this now, how are they gonna treat us in the future?”
“Everyone can do their bit, it’s just about taking that extra step and try to minimise usage.”
We’ve come up to a platform here to show you the habitat of the red-footed booby birds. The red-footed booby birds here are very rare and very unusual. They are these white birds that you see in the top of the trees that are unusual because generally speaking, booby birds or red footed boobies are brown in color. Here they are white and why do they get the name booby? Well, they’re not the quickest creatures on the planet apparently. They’re slow to take offence. As a matter of fact, they don’t mind humans; you can get this close to them. The black birds by the way are called frigates. They are great hunters around here. But so booby birds around here are just that; they’re a bit boobyish. Let me bring in Lecita Lee, she is the Marine protected manager for the Belize Audubon Society. Lecita, nice to see you.
Lecita Lee, Marine Protected Mgr., Belize Audubon Society
“Same here, Matt.”
“We’re standing here at such a beautiful vantage point, looking at all of the booby birds that we talked about earlier. Tell me a little bit more about them.”
“These are one of a kind of Belize that you can see around the world. They’re only here in this island here. This is a little paradise for them.”
“Why do they only come to this caye and not come of the other six or eight hundred other islands around here? Why don’t they come to the others?”
“Because you can see this is a piece of paradise with the zericote trees that they need for their nesting and also the surrounding water for the food. They need the water for the foods and besides these are pelagic birds; they need deep waters and they dive down deep.”
“They share this habitat with the dark birds which are frigates. They get along always?”
“Yes, they do.”
“Tell me about the frigates.”
“The frigates, they are bullies, I can tell you that. And they go about feeding, getting food from the boobies instead of going fishing for themselves.”
“So they’re scavengers.”
“They’re scavengers, they’re bullies and besides they can’t dive, they can’t get into the water. they are not water birds.”
“Actually yesterday we say some frigates actually harassing a pair of aspray, looking to take the food from them”
“Yes, they are bullies, like I said.”
The show also visited the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, the Belize Zoo, and the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Reserve.
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