Location: Sittee River - Belize
Day 23: Part 2
by Wayne & Karen Brown
Earlier today we traveled on land by van to visit the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. Now we are going to travel back to the Nantucket Clipper by boat from the jungle to the sea following the Sittee River that started in the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary.
After a short drive from the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary our van drops us off along the Sittee River. The Sittee River is muddy brown and flows slowly from the rainforest to the Caribbean Sea. The river here is about 100 feet wide. The plants of the rainforest hang over the river. Two boats and drivers are waiting for us at the river's edge. The boats are about 22 feet long and each have two large, powerful outboard motors. We will be cruising down the river on these boats for about an hour and a half.
As we start down the river our driver tells us to look carefully in the trees and grasses along the river's edge because there are lot of animals that like to hang out here. As we cruise down the river we see that people like the river, too. Occasionally, near the river's edge, between the trees, we see some thatched huts where people live.
Just around a bend in the river we see something white in the trees close to the river. Our driver slowly approaches. There are two large egrets (about 4 feet tall) sitting in a tree watching us! Egrets eat fish. These birds can be very sneaky when they catch fish. They stand quietly still in shallow water and spread their wings to shade the water. When fish come to hide in the shade the egrets quickly grab the fish with their long bills!
Just past the egrets our driver slows down and points to something in the plants. It is a green iguana about 4 feet long! The iguana we see is not green, but a rusty orange color. We know that this is an older adult green iguana. Only older adult green iguanas are this rusty orange color. The younger green iguanas are green. This iguana looks big and frightening, but it is not scary to us. We know that this reptile is only a harmless vegetarian. This big iguana is not sitting in the tree ready to pounce on us. Reptiles do not have warm blood as mammals do, so it is only sitting out in the sun to warm up.
The further we travel down the river the more green iguanas we see sunbathing in the trees. Our driver tells us that people here eat these iguanas. They call iguanas "bush chicken" because they say that iguana meat tastes like chicken!
After more than an hour of cruising down the river we are getting closer to the end of the river and the Caribbean Sea. The water is getting a little bit salty from the salt from the sea. Suddenly our driver swings our boat in a tight turn and slows down. He has seen something laying on the bank of the opposite side of the river. He slows down and quietly points to what he sees. It is a huge crocodile about 10 feet long! This is a big crocodile but they can grow up to 12 feet long. We are glad we are in the boat and not in the water with it because crocodiles can be dangerous if closely aproached. Unlike the iguanas the crocodiles are not harmless vegetarians. Crocodiles eat fish and other large water animals. They even go after animals that come close to the river. Like the iguanas it is laying out in the sun to warm up.
A little way past the crocodile we come to the end of the river and enter the Caribbean Sea. In the deep water offshore we see that Nantucket Clipper is waiting for us to return to the ship.
Join us tomorrow as we explore another jungle river, this time in the country of Guatemala.
Wayne & Karen
Position: 17º 15' N / 88º 13' W
Air Temp: 86ºF
Weather: light breeze, sunny with scattered clouds.
The Sittee River flows from the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary to the Caribbean Sea. See how the rainforest plants hang over the river.
We board these boats at the edge of the Sittee River for our cruise from the jungle to the sea.
These two large egrets are watching us from a tree over the river.
We see this large green iguana sunbathing near the top of a tree by the river.
We found this 10 foot long crocodile sunbathing on the river bank.