Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Belize, Caye Caulker, Pelicans die off, signal catastrophe of environment at Caye Caulker.

*** Pelicans nearly extinct on Caye Caulker.


by Ray Auxillou, September, 7, 2009

Just spent a weekend at my home island of Caye Caulker, a mile inside the Great Barrier Reef of Belize. During my lifetime and mostly during the period of the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s I had the job of counting PELICANS all along the Great Barrier Reef chain of islands and offshore in the three ATOLLS. My business in those younger days, carried me widely in my boats around the reefs and islands. The PELICAN COUNT was sent to Dr. Henry Hildebrand of the University of Corpus Christi, Texas. Since that time, the annual visit of new marine biology students to Caye Caulker and my six week logistics supply for them and guiding came to an end, when the private University was sold to the State of Texas and the Marine Biology program was closed. I helped train a lot of future parks and game professionals for the State of Texas.
Part of the volunteer work I was asked to perform over several decades, were the PELICAN count. The Pelican is the top of the food chain for the Great Barrier Reef islands in Belize. You tell the health of the islands and shallows and nurseries by the PELICAN COUNT.
This weekend the PELICAN count for Caye Caulker was one old solitary bird, cruising all by itself on the North side of the Split. Pelicans are social birds and usually travel in flocks of a dozen or more.
The ordinary count for Caye Caulker village ran around 50 PELICANS sitting on piers and posts in front of the village. They feed off SPRAT a sort of sardine, that grows up in the mangrove roots.
The fact that PELICANS are distressed into almost extinction at Caye Caulker should set off alarm bells, as one step up the food chain are humans. If PELICANS are disappearing from some disastrous change in the ecological environment, then humans will soon follow.
I do not know the problem here. Some other generation will have to find out. Though I do remember that the Gulf of Mexico around thirty years ago had a similar PELICAN die off. Which was traced eventually to pesticides in the Gulf waters, running off the land. The pesticides made the new born in their eggs, have very thin shells and the birds did not reach to the point of hatching in a proper time limit and died by their thousands. The Gulf of Mexico did eventually rebuild their PELICAN populations.
I never did counts of FRIGATE BIRDS, but normally about a hundred birds would be flying back and forth along the barrier islands, on either side of Caye Caulker. This weekend, I only counted TEN FRIGATE BIRDS in total.
My only hope by this article is to sound the ALARM, as this development has serious implications for HUMANS as well.

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