How’s the service?

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The diving is good, how is the service, the staff?

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Past guests of Blackbird Caye Resort are always willing to write about their experiences with us. Check out TripAdvisor — for our reviews. Below are a few about our attentive, gracious and charismatic staff:

“Staff was terrific. Chris and Joe on the snorkel trips were great. Ian and Jackie at the bar were very friendly. Michael the manager very helpful. Great place to relax and enjoy the beach and water, catch up on your reading.” —  Earl S

“Emmy & Cardinal were our dive masters for the week. Love those guys.”LaurieC1961

“The crew out at Blackbird are second to none! Thanks for making my stay so wonderful everyone!!!! :)” gypsygirl32
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“Michael is a perfect manager. Cook is genius in making cakes. Our snorkeling master was doing everything to show us sea life. Thank you to everyone at Blackbird resort!”OlenaChu

“Blackbird Caye Resort is the best vacation we have ever had. The dive masters and the absolute best, they can and are more than willing to answer any and all questions, offer tips to make your diving more enjoyable, nice and so fun. Everyone on staff on the island is so nice and helpful. Anything you need, just ask and you have it. We will be going back again and again. WE LOVE THIS PLACE.” — dogynini

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THROWBACK THURSDAYS: “Sea and respect”

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“Sea” and respect … Turneffe’s multiple-use reserve helps protect a globally important coral reef ecosystem

“Sea” and Respect…Turneffe’s multiple-use reserve helps protect a globally important coral ecosystem

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Millions of organisms

In 2012, with the supervision and financial support of multiple non-profit organizations, the Turneffe Atoll System was declared a multiple-use marine reserve.  This was due, primarily, to the fact that it is considered the largest and most biologically diverse coral atoll in the Western Hemisphere and, therefore, perceived as a “nautical rainforest”.

What is coral?  Actually, the question should be “what ARE coral”.  When scuba diving in Belize and you come across coral it may look like chunks of rock to you.  In fact, these rock-like structures are the result of millions of organisms, called polyps that multiply in colonies. They cling together, are living and “breathing”, only feed at night and hide during the day. The reason they appear as being rock-like is because they have an exoskeleton, to provide them with support, which is composed of calcium carbonate.  This is the same com that shellfish use to make their shells – this type of coral is referred to as “hard coral”.  Another type of coral is referred to as “soft”, for it does not have a calcium carbonate skeleton. Instead, it supports itself upright by tiny spines.

Within Turneffe’s coral reefs thousands of animals make their homes.  It is believed that there are possibly thousands of other unknown species which live in and around the coral reef.   It is a scientific fact that it supports, within its folds, more species/unit area than any other area in the surrounding ocean.

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Thousands of coral species

Lastly, this coral ecosystem also makes contributions to the medical field from which research is currently underway to find cures for cancer, arthritis, human bacterial infections and viruses.  It has been discovered, and which is of great importance, that the compounds within the Caribbean Sponge are used in the making of AZT which is the medicine primarily used to fight the AIDS virus.  Also, corals and molluscs are used to manufacture orthopaedic and cosmetic surgical implants.   Currently, there is on-going investigation to find out whether coral skeletons may be used for bone grafts.  A soft coral known as Caribbean Gorgonian produces a compound used as an anti-inflammatory and, this same substance is also used in an anti-wrinkle cream.  Taking into consideration that approximately 95% of the ocean has not yet been explored, the possibilities of discovering more and more medical uses for coral are practically endless.

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Rock-like structures

So, when scuba diving in Belize and you come across coral please “sea” it and treat it with respect.  Remember the numerous benefits it is contributing globally and that one day it may even save your life.

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CREATURE FEATURE: Manatees

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The world’s largest Manatee population

The Meso-America Reef System is home to one of the world’s largest populations of manatees — estimated to number anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500!

The population thrive in and around Turneffe Atoll, which is approximately 30 miles (38 km) long and 10 miles (16 km) wide — it is the largest atoll in western hemisphere.

The atoll is made up of a series of mangrove islands, cays, lagoons and lush grassland marine robes — all of which are surrounded and protected by a ring of vibrant and unique coral species.

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Frequenting the coastal waters

Manatees are large, often slow moving mammals that frequent coastal waters and rivers of Turneffe Atoll. They are born underwater and have been known to live up to 40 years. The huge creatures are usually very docile and are therefore great for viewing underwater.

The marine mammals are also known as sea-cows and are mostly herbivorous — eating over 60 species of plant species and 10% of their bodyweights everyday.

Manatees can measure up to 13 feet (4 m) in length and weigh as much as 1,300 pounds (590kg). They also have paddle-like flippers.

Just like other mammals, manatees make sounds, especially when communicating with their young. When adult manatees communicate with one another it is usually during sexual intercourse and playful interaction.

When female manatees give birth they must immediately rush their young to the surface for its first breath of air.

Frequenting the coastal waters

“Manati” — meaning “breast” — derives from the Taino, a people existing in Colombia before European settlers forced them out of the country.

There are three species of manatee, distinguished primarily by where they live. One manatee population ranges along the North American east coast from Florida to Brazil — many of which are found residing in the Meso-America Reef System. Other species inhabit the Amazon River and the west coast and rivers of Africa.

To see these remarkable creatures, visit Blackbird’s website: http://blackbirdresort.com/

 

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EPIC EXCURSIONS: The Aquarium

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The Aquarium dive site is located within the Lighthouse Atoll and lives true to its name: the area is bursting with aquatic life with an abundance of schooling fish from School Master Snappers, Creole Wrasse, Queen Angelfish, Banded Butterflyfish and Honeycomb Trunkfish.

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Blackbird will transport guests

Renowned for its crystal clear waters — with visibility up to 80 ft (24 meters) — the site plummets to depths of up to 50 feet (15 meters). The Aquarium is reachable by boat, 13 miles east of Turneffe Atoll, to the northeastern corner of Long Caye.

First Blackbird will transport guests out to Turneffe Atoll, the largest and most biologically diverse atoll in the Western Hemisphere. After diving/snorkelling the wonders of Turneffe, guests are whisked off to Light House Reef Atoll, 13 miles (21 km) east.

It is difficult to reach unless you possess a very fast speedboat and the local knowledge needed to navigate the seas. Luckily Blackbird has both in spades, so if diving the Blue Hole has ever been on your bucket list, we can take you there.

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Crystal clear turquoise waters

The trip is breath-taking as the boat glides over 10 ft (3 meters) of crystal-clear turquoise waters — in the middle of the ocean. If lucky enough, you might catch a glimpse of the red-footed boobie — a rare bird that resides on the atolls.
The Aquarium is well defined with long coral ridges and sandy canyons that run perpendicular to each other, beginning shallow before dropping off into the depths.

Strong currents often flow across the reef so divers are advised to work carefully with the dive masters — the currents generally sweep across the reef from the east. However, these flows of water can be utilized by divers, who are able to drop down to the west and be effortlessly pulled along to east before rising and returning to the boat.

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Varied and colourful species

Crinoids (aka Sea Feathers) inhabit the Aquarium and are visible during the day. Their orange, featherlike arms are often fully exposed while their small body remains attached beneath the coral formations — in other locations, Crinoids are not so common.

Fish are also varied and colorful at this site. If you look on top of the reef and in the dividing channels, you can find the a wide range of diverse wildlife, including Parrotfish, who graze on the algae patches that mantle much of the reef top.
Check out the website: http://blackbirdresort.com/

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TURNEFFE ATOLL SYSTEM: Bucket List

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7 Reasons why Turneffe should be on your bucket list.

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Over 60 species of birds

The Turneffe Atoll System is the largest atoll in the Caribbean. That statement alone should be reason enough for you to put it on your bucket list of things to do when scuba diving in Belize.
What are 6 other good reasons?

1.    It offers the BEST diving in Belize:  The atoll is full of mangroves and sea grass flats which act like feeding grounds for sea creatures.  It is full of a vast variety of exotic fish, such as the rare Whitespotted Toadfish.  You will also come across several other endangered species of animals such as the Antillean Manatee who only breeds in this atoll system.  The salt-water crocodile is another endangered species found there.  It is believed that there are currently between 200 to 300 animals there.

2.    Onshore, Turneffe is home to over 77 vegetation types and over 60 species of nesting birds, most of them also on the endangered list.

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Swim with dolphins

3.    Who does not want to swim with dolphins?  In Turneffe you will find schools of bottle-nosed dolphins that are just as happy to swim with you.  This wildlife sanctuary is the place where they
come to feed, as well as to nurse their calves.

4.    The atoll boasts of at least 60 known scuba diving sites and 200 cayes within the reef.  So no matter what your level of diving expertise is you will find a spot where you will feel comfortable and safe.

5.    Since the atoll is approximately 25-30 miles (40- 50 km) offshore, the water is always clear and allows you visibility of at least 100 feet (33 meters) and up to as much as 150 feet (46 meters).

6.    160 miles (258 km) of walls and reefs makes this Belize diving spot a location where you will find yourself isolated from the masses of divers found in other sites.

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