Thursday, July 20, 2017

Puerto Rico Coral Reefs and Igaunas

The next leg of our tropical journey takes us clear across the island, to the coastal city of La Parguera. We stay at this hotel called La Jamaca (pronounced la hamaka; which means "the hammock" in Spanish). This hotel is far out! Let me just rave about all the fruit trees around the hotel ground, which attract various exotic birds and bats. I run around day and night with my DSLR like a three year old after nine Christmas cookies on Christmas morning! And several balconies and catwalk-bridges around the pool and trees make it great for wildlife viewing as well as hanging out after dark with friends; which is exactly what we did our last night. The hotel owner and bar tender are great people and serve excellent drinks and conversation as the colorful pool lights and tiki torches flicker all around our group in the night air. Half of our group has their beer goggles on, and all of us are wearing smiles! :)
This Venezuelan Tropial is having a go at a papaya.
This Puerto Rican Spindalis was making
nest in the rustic lamp fixture above
my hammock

This Emerald humming bird decided to
join me for breakfast by the pool.

The city of La Parguera is a tourist trap, and we do spend a little time in the souvenir shops. However, our main stops here are the research island and the coral reefs.

Puerto Rican college student teaching us about coral.
 The university students shuttle us out close to the reef and give us a briefing about what we might find. They even take it a step farther and show us samples of the creatures we will encounter. Though this tutorial was very informative, I did not have my preferred note taking device, and my back was growing a nice sunburn. Needless to say, I was ready to get below the water and show off how long I could hold my breath.

After they released us to explore the reef, I went to work with my water proof Nikon Coolpix trying to find as many different fish as I could. The reef depth ranged from 4-13ft, so pretty darn shallow, but that was good because water clarity was just a tad bit murky today. It was a good snorkel sesh, but nothing compared to when I snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef.

Possibly a squirrelfish?
A pretty little sea urchin.

Later that afternoon, we take a ferry out to a research island to spend some quality time with the Cuban Rock Iguanas. The Cuban Rock Iguanas are a member of the Cyclura genus, which is one of the most endangered lizard groups in the Caribbean. These iguanas are naturally found on the rocky coasts of Cuba and her surrounding islets, but a feral population was started on this little Puerto Rican isle in the 60s and has been thriving ever since. Fun fact, these iguanas prefer to make their burrows near or in patches of cacti and thistles. One would think this is to protect against predators, but with no natural predators on this isle, the iguanas are pretty chill, which allows us to observe and learn from them at close distances.
The Cuban Rock Iguana
This is actually a green iguana, different

In the late evening, we board the ferry back to the main land, which is the regular island of Puerto Rico, and I realize there is not enough room on the boat for all of us. (initiate sarcasm mode) Oh darn, guess I will just have to wait here at the dock, and watch the pretty sunset around the mangroves with the iguanas. :)
Just chillin'

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