There are several reefs on Caye Caulker that are just too shallow to dive, so they make great snorkeling spots for a diver like me. Plus I had heard rave reviews of a particular spot known as Shark and Ray Alley in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, where nurse sharks and stingrays congregate everyday around lunchtime because fishermen have been feeding them for years.
I’m not sure how I feel about feeding the fish and making them dependent on humans. I also don’t know how I feel about going on a sailboat which is packed to maximum capacity such that there really isn’t much space to stretch out on an all-day sailing trip.
But I do know that all of that becomes far less important or irritating when there’s all-you-can-drink rum punch available on tap.
Seeing the nurse sharks practically jumping out of the water to munch on the fish being thrown overboard was quite a sight – almost more for observing people’s reactions to the sharks than the sharks themselves. “Oh God! I can never get in the water now! Look at how many sharks there are!”, “What if they start feeding on me?”, and “What if its not safe?”
Please. Nurse sharks are bottom feeders. They don’t even have sharp teeth!
Getting in the water was a bit of a cluster, people everywhere splashing creating lots of commotion. I swam to the other side of the boat and calmly watched from a distance. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted someone grabbing a stingray and practically pulling it out of the water. On a reflex, I surfaced and started yelling “what the hell do you think you’re doing??!” – although with more colorful language. Turned out, the guy that was wrestling the helpless giant fish was one of the guides and felt that it was his prerogative to do as he pleased with the marine life.
I decided to choose my battles more carefully.
Later came the highlight of the snorkel trip for me: a spotted eagle ray gliding gracefully beneath me. And did I mention Rum Punch?
The boat ride back “home” was definitely more pleasant than the journey here. I think that might have something to do with the fuzzy haze that came over me as I sipped from my filled Nalgene bottle.
I was feeling the reggae beat through my body, I was gleefully aware of the bobbing waves and the glorious afternoon sun on my skin.
And I’d found myself a little corner to chill on at the front of the boat, happily heeding Bob Marley’s words and not worrying about a thing.
Where: Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Caye Caulker
When: 31st March
How: BlackHawk Sailing