Being in nature is associated with definitive mental health benefits - those of you who live in Belize definitely agree with this, am I right? While much of the world is having to stay inside for our physical health, as well as the health of our peers, the internet has made it possible for us to maintain a sense of connectedness to the wild world from the comfort and safety of our home. As we all work through this very difficult time, we plan on sharing many moments of beauty inspired by nature to boost spirits.
To start, here's photo of a Morelet's crocodile I shot while on the mainland. Morelet's crocodiles, Crocodylus moreletii, are a (primarily) freshwater dwelling species found only in Belize, Mexico, and Guatemala. Like most species of crocodile, Morelet's are shy and tend to keep their distance from people in their natural and wild state. Their diet when they are young starts with insects and other invertebrates and expands to vertebrates, such as fish, reptiles, and mammals, as they grow. The females are fit to reproduce at about 5 feet and have an average of 30 eggs in a clutch. Though they have many babies, very few survive to become reproducing adults due to their low status on the food chain when they are young (they are only 9 inches long upon hatching... and remember half of that is tail!). Their small size makes them optimal prey for predatory birds, fish, snakes, raccoons, big cats, just to name a few, but if they are fit enough to make it through those tough years, they become an apex predator where their role in the ecosystem is to help keep balance of the complex system of species that coinhabit the area. What does it mean to balance an ecosystem? If a particular prey species population get out of wack, apex predators, like crocs, either eat more or less of them, bringing the population back to a stable level. For example, overpopulation of a particular species can lead to them overeating and depleting their food source to a point where nothing is left for them to survive, which can in a worst case scenario lead to the collapse and even extinction of that species in the area. Effects of under or over population of any species trickles down through the entire system like a domino effect. In addition apex predators like crocs tend to target weaker specimens, so where crocodiles exist, you find a strong and fit population of their prey sources. How does this relate to us? Think about our fish populations, people! Crocs tend to prey on the weaker specimens, leaving only the strong to survive and reproduce. To all the fisherfolk, the crocs are your allies! If you want stronger and more reproductive fish stocks, we must protect our crocs! Beauty exists in everything, while you may not always see it on the surface, I challenge you to look deeper and find it!