A second trip to Belize, especially to Ambergris Caye, was necessary in 2014. After a very successful trip in March with some great croc researcher assistants (Helen Sung, Brandon, Miriam, and Peter) with the help of the American Crocodile Education Sanctuary (ACES), I was gun-ho to make another trip sooner than later to get more samples to explore the bioaccumulation of heavy metals along the food chain, and comparing the heavy metal levels between parasites and their hosts. In my opinion, this has major conservation and environmental implications for the island Ambergris Caye. Ambergris Caye is in rapid development, and regulations are not heavily met or simply ignored. As a result, the surrounding water and the animals are continuously being exposed to pollution which is having a DEVASTATING IMPACT. The loss of biodiversity within the last 20 years is astounding- which includes ill hatchling and adults of the American Crocodile. So, with the bestowed NSF Postdoc Biology Fellowship I received this year, I decided to use this research opportunity to explore eco-toxicology of parasitism and their hosts to assist in the management of wildlife and the habitats of Central America (that’s part of my postdoc research in a nutshell).
So, after a 4-day fun event in Texas celebrating the nuptials of the Kohlman Clan and being harassed non-stop by mosquitoes, I am now back on Ambergris Caye… still being eaten by mosquitoes. No longer than an hour on being in Ambergris Caye, my assistants, ACES and I were off to go hunt for some crocs. No stomach flushing tonight, but just eye-shining and getting information for population studies. We caught and saw a range of crocs, which included an emaciated hatchling that had the signs of heavy metal toxicity. It was so great to have the majority of the A-team back- it felt like we never left Belize! Needless to stay, my time in Belize has started off pretty well and I am definitely looking forward to the next 10 days!
Chris from ACES and I… he doesn’t seem to impressed as I am
catching this year-old croc tonight :p