Snorkeling Pompion Caye was a surprise. We did it as another stop on our catamaran sailing trip down the coast of Belize.
Tiny Pompion Caye is right inside the protective barrier reef edge, almost directly east of Placencia.
The snorkeling was pretty good here, mostly because we saw a number of interesting things we had not seen much elsewhere.
One of our fellow snorkelers came over to us and in a very excited, slightly nervous voice said to come and look, that she had found something big under a rock. And sure enough she found a resting Nurse Shark tucked under a coral head (see below). We assured her that they were gentle creatures.
We also found the ray in the picture at right. It was beautiful, and not too large. We had never seen one before, and thought maybe it was a skate.
But it is actually a Lesser Electric Ray. These rays have an organ that runs from behind their eyes to their tail, and it can produce an electric shock from between 14 to 37 volts. They use it for protection and to stun prey.
They are not dangerous if you leave them alone, but people who have caught them have been known to be knocked off their feet from the shock.
We also found a graveyard of conch shells. Clearly this is where someone who collected conch used to dump their shells.
When snorkeling Pompion Caye we noticed that the coral here had seen better days. We noticed a lot of dead Elkhorn Coral, and the reef was just not in as good of health as farther north. This may be partly because of the water conditions. This far south in Belize you start to see the effects of fresh water from the southern rivers in Belize mingling with the sea water. Basically the visibility is not as good in the southern areas, particularly as you get closer to the mainland.