This morning we helped Madi do a bit of feeding and then we geared up and headed out to Carlos' Tours for our snorkeling tour! We met 5 other people including an employee of Carlos the owner of the tour company. He fitted us with fins and masks and then we boarded the boat and rode out to Hol Chan Marine Reserve! He anchored the boat once we saw a few other boats anchored in the most crystal clear water I've ever seen, and he went through some tips and rules about staying together and not touching the corals. I had some trouble with my mask and snorkel at first but then I was starting to get the breathing down. I had taken an underwater throw-away camera with us and it had once escaped my shorts pocket. I saw something bobbing in the water and realized it was my camera and had to swim out to it so Mike put it in his secure velcro shorts pocket.

We saw tons of fish! Groupers were my favorite to see. They were giant and let us get fairly close. We also got to see snappers, jacks, HUGE corals, and even got to swim with a 3 legged green sea turtle! We then spotted a sting ray chillin in the sand beneath us and a few others in our tour got to see a mooray eel. I learned how to dive down with the snorkel on and got close to some fish near the corals and on my way up to the surface, Mike said our guide got a really good shot of me that we later got to see in his slideshow presentation of all the underwater shots he took.

Back on the boat, we were all given fresh fruits and bags of water. My first time snorkeling was pretty freakin great! I have this thing with water though, not exactly a fear but you could call it that. Certain conditions in water, like how awkward the breathing was while snorkeling, tends to stress me out a bit. It took some getting used to and Mike was usually by my side snorkeling next to me as I adjusted my mask a few times. All in all, our first stop was incredible and fun! The boat sped off to Shark Ray Alley next! As soon as our boat slowed in the area, we saw TONS of nurse sharks headed our way! It was semi intimidating seeing shark after shark swim up in giant masses and basically wait for the bait or for you to get in the water. Stingrays also crowded around the boat and our guide got some awesome shots after throwing in a bait pipe off one side of the boat.

We all got into the water on the other side of the boat and swam to the other side to watch them eat and swim. My mask was fogging up and I wound up surfacing right in the middle of their feeding ball!!! As I was fixing my mask, my feet hit something smooth and then I felt a slightly rough thing go across my back. I heard our guide who was still on the boat call out to me saying that I might want to swim out of that section just in case one mistook my hand or foot for a piece of food! I quickly fixed my mask and got out of there but knowing how fairly harmless they are, it was a pretty awesome experience to have a shark swim scross my back! Later, we got to swim down and touch the rays and sharks! We snorkeled around a bit, following our guide and we got to see a spotted eagle ray!!!

On our way to the Coral Gardens, we saw flying fish skim across the water! Suddenly the crystal clear water became cloudy and greenish. We had arrived at the coral gardens but it looked like we wouldnt be able to see much. We got out and tried anyway. My mask was really starting to stress me out by now. It continuously filled with water and fogged up so I would have to surface and fix/clean it every 2 minutes. Mike held my hand in the already-foggy water and I tried not to bump into any large corals. He said he saw a lionfish! Good thing I didnt run into that! He had to guide me back to the boat where I could remove my mask and snorkel to climb back aboard.

We went back to Caye Caulker to the snorkel shop and saw a picture presentation from the day and Mike and I decided to split the cost of buying a photo CD since we didnt know how our underwater camera would turn out. We then paid the tour company and caught some internet before heading back to help Madi with evening feedings. Time to SLEEP.