Cara Blanca Pools
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Sunday March 19, 2017

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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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Cara Blanca Pools

Hidden in the disappearing forests of central #Belize along the Yalbac escarpment are the little studied Cara Blanca Pools, a series of 24 clear water cenotes lined up like buttons on a shirt. I visited one of the pools in 2005 and found water so clear I could follow a school of tiny minnows from 50 feet away. Dr Lisa Lucero from the University of Illinois has been studying an ancient Maya water temple for years at the rim of another, while divers discovered fossils of giant sloths in the depths of the same pool. Last year I discovered the remains of an 1800's logging camp in a third pool along with upwelling and calcium clouds floating like a dreamscape through an underwater forest of skeleton tree trunks. This is just an example of the treasures found in 3 of the pools, the other 21 have yet to be properly explored. And yet we may never discover the value of the mysteries contained in the remaining pools, for Mennonites have cleared land to the West right up to the edge of two of the pools, fouling them to a deep chocolate brown; and Santander is clearing from the south, digging canals into the water system near the pools.

Photographs by Tony Rath

Witness and weep. The Cara Blanca Pools, a series of 24 - possibly interconnect - cenotes along the Yalbac Escarpment which support a rich diversity of fish, wildlife and archaeological sites are being erased from Belize's natural wonders ledger. Above is a photo of four of the eastern pools untouched. Here are Pools 9 & 10, the same pools visited in 2009 with 100'+ visibility and full of fish, now just muddied ponds. The clearing is a recently planted corn field. The pool to the bottom left (Pool 8) appears to have some clarity still, possibly because of the larger forest buffer, possibly because water flows towards the other pools. So little is known about the Cara Blanca Pools, and yet #Belize allows their destruction. Should we not, as a nation, take stock of our natural capital before destroying it? Where are Forestry, DOE, Archaeology, Lands, those government ministries tasked with protecting and managing our natural resources? If shame doesn't work, what will?

Paraphrasing Albert Einstein "Belize will not be destroyed by those who are greedy and corrupt, but by those Belizeans who watch them without doing anything"

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