Studying and collecting epiphytes, Bruce studies the host tree leaves while Marvin and David prepare to collect.
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Monday February 9, 2015

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Tony Rath
Editorial, assignment & stock photography from Belize. Pictures, images and photos of nature, people, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker & San Igacio, Cayo. Tony Rath is a professional photographer based along the shore of the Caribbean Sea in the picturesque town of Dangriga, Belize. He is a trained marine biologist and has worked as a diver and underwater photographer for the Smithsonian Institution; diving on oil rigs off California; and captaining a sailboat across the Atlantic Ocean and through the Mediterranean and North Seas. He founded, along with his wife Therese, Naturalight Productions, Belize's premiere Internet marketing company. He now leads the special projects division of the company. The company created and manages numerous award winning websites.
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Studying and collecting epiphytes, Bruce studies the host tree leaves while Marvin and David prepare to collect. Sarstoon-Temash National Park

Marvin grabs a collecting bag, a roll of brightly colored tape and a sharpie. The captain maneuvers the boat carefully to the bank while David gently guides the bow past branches to the trunk of the tree hosting the epiphyte. Bruce continues to stare at the plant, mentally going through memorized plant keys, checking characteristics off in an attempt to identify the plant.

“We need to be very careful before we collect,“ Bruce explains “we need to make sure that it is not a rare species, or the only one in the habitat. We won‘t collect it if we only see one.” Bruce Holst is a remarkable scientist, not only in terms of the depth of his knowledge and width of his experience, but in his ability to transfer what he knows to others; he is always teaching, always questioning and always excited.

For example, at one point we are 100 yards into a planned half mile trek to sample a particular habitat Bruce has identified as “interesting” from remote sensing data. In front of us rises a tangled maze of vines and roots; we stand in muck and stagnant water; every branch surrounding us appears to have thorns, spikes or prickles, mosquitoes incessantly buzz - and the group is all smiles.

“We have found epiphyte Nirvana!“

Photograph by Tony Rath, from "To Boldly Go Where No One Wants To"

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