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Every Great Croc Dream Begins with a Dreamer: the tale of pursuing one’s dream to work with Belize’s crocodiles

This month’s blog is written by CRC University of Belize’s Intern Jonathan Triminio. Enjoy his summary of his summer internship with the CRC- we wish Jonathan the best of luck and look forward to his future as one of Belize’s leaders in conservation!

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“Where did my 7 weeks go?!?” was the question I asked myself right after arriving home from surveys on Ambergris Caye. On June 25, 2018, I started my internship with the Crocodile Research Coalition (CRC) as a requirement of the University of Belize Natural Resource Management Program. Being a part of the CRC during my internship period was a terrific experience, let alone an absolute honor. Working with an organization advocating towards the conservation and management of crocodiles in Belize meant more than meeting academic requirements for me. I had to opportunity to engage in field research on my favorite predator which I believe is the most amazing animal on the face of the Earth. How amazing is that! Prior to engaging with the CRC, I had already developed a genuine enthusiasm towards crocodiles. I taught myself a lot about crocodilians simply by reading articles and watching documentaries, so when the time came to find an organization for the internship program, I was probably the first one to jump on CRC’s application. I had my first wildlife experience with them and apart from learning the skills in the field, I also learned soft skills I will carry on with me from now on.

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Being with the CRC one could’ve never said they’d get an early night’s rest. Field surveys were performed at night and it was something I got use to even though there was still work to be done during the day. I started doing field activities on my first week in nearby habitats such as Belize Aquaculture Ltd. (BAL), Placencia Lagoon and areas of the Belize watershed. Habitat Monitoring Surveys were conducted during the day and I will never forget that one survey route (Bladen River to Monkey River Mouth) that had us kayaking over 40 Km. It was entertaining to say the least! Nocturnal Eyeshine and Capture & Mark Surveys were conducted at night which is fascinating but also requires a great deal of diligence and attentiveness. The CRC takes extreme caution and safety measures when conducting these surveys to avoid any risk or injury. Another important habitat that we surveyed was part of the New River Lagoon, and other water bodies within the Rio Bravo Conservation Area with the help of Programme for Belize. We observed a healthy population of Morelet’s Crocodile (Crocodylus moreletti) thriving in many areas of the watershed. During the end of my internship, we headed to Ambergris Caye support CRC’s Noreweigan Master’s student Joe Partyka, who is studying the immunology of crocodilians. The survey started from south Ambergris Caye, then continuing north towards small lagoons then to Bacalar Chico. It took us two weeks and we observed a fairly healthy population of American Crocodiles (Crocodylus acutus) in that region (~250 animals observed!). I am fortunate enough to say I had firsthand experience working with crocodiles and being part of an important research with the CRC. More importantly, I gained more respect and admiration for these animals as I learned how amazing, powerful and important they are to our environment.

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I spent my time in an infectious environment full of intelligent individuals who made my internship a fun learning experience and an unforgettable one! Being around these people inspired me to become more involved in conservation and research in my country. I am beyond words grateful and fortunate to have worked with an amazing team. To Dr. Marisa Tellez, Miriam Boucher and the rest of the CRC team, a sincere Thank you! for all the knowledge you have given me and for the unforgettable moments we shared while on my internship. I hope to find influential people like you guys in my career. I am now looking forward to getting more involved with wildlife conservation, and not just crocodiles in Belize. My time and internship with the CRC might be over, but my time in conservation has just begun!

The CRC University of Belize Internship is not possible without the private donations or sponsors nationally and internationally.  The CRC would like to give a huge thank you to Marine Parade Chambers, and Peter Lawrence and Pedro’s Inn for their financial assistance in Jonathan’s internship as you provided Jonathan the opportunity to build a strong foundation in wildlife conservation and science.

If you are interested in assisting in the CRC University of Belize Intern fund, please contact Program Coordinator Grecia Mendez at program.coordinator@crcbelize.org. 

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