Species lists

Species list

(*) rare

Master List

Reef list

Mangrove list

Night Snorkel list

Night Beach Seine list

Site specific lists

-TREC grounds

-Tres Cocos

-Mexico Rocks

-Coral Garden   17 degrees 49.997 minutes North  87 degrees 57.540 minutes  West

-Deke’s Reef

-Eiley Rocks

-Hol Chan

-Turtle Rock Island  17 degrees 50.677 minutes North  87 degrees 59.106 minutes West

-Shark-ray Alley

-Mangrove Isles

-Pillar Coral


-Catalane – Invertebrate Heaven

-Mata Rocks

-Squid Shallows

-Soft Coral Gardens



Master List

Reef Fish

Group – Angelfish – Pomacanthidae

1.    Queen angelfish, Holacanthus cilaris   local Belize name “Pangler”

2.    French angelfish, Pomacanthus paru

3.    Gray angelfish, Pomacanthus arcuatus

4.    Rock Beauty, Holacanthus tricolor

Group – Butterfylfishes – Chaetodontidae

1.    Banded butterfly, Chaetodon striatus

2.    Foureye butterfly, Chaetodon capistratus

3.    Spotfin butterfly, Chaetodon ocellatus

Group – Surgeonfishes – Acanthuridae -Protected by law from fishing

1.    Blue tang, Acanthurus coeruleus

2.    Ocean surgeonfish Acanthurus bahianus

3.    Doctorfish Acanthurus chirurgus

Group – Jacks – Carangidae

1.    Bar jack, Caranx ruber

2.    Horse-eye jack, Caranx latus

3.    African pompano *, Alectis cilaris   local Belize name “Pompas criole”

4.    Blue Runner, Caranx crysos (esp. Soft Coral Garden)

5.    Big Eye Scad, * Selar crumenophthalmus  esp at Soft Coral Garden   Belize Name: Google Eye Jack

6.   Cero, Scomberomorus regalis  *  esp at Coral Garden Back Reef           Belize Name: King Fish

Group – Needlefish – Belonidae

1.    Flat needlefish, Ablennes hians   Belize name: Long Guard

2.    Houndfish, Tylosurus crocodilus

Group – Flyingfishes/halfbeaks – Exocoetidae

1.    Ballyhoo, Hemiramphus brasilensis

Group – Barracudas – Sphyraenidae

1.    Great barracuda, Sphyraena barracuda

2.    Southern Sennet, Sphyraena picudilla (esp. Soft coral Garden)

Group – Bonefishes – Albulidae

1.    Bonefish, Albula vulpes – Protected by law from commercial fishing and trade. Local Belize name: Macabi

2.   Ladyfish, Elops saurus

Group – Mullet – Mugildae

1.   White Mullet, Mugil curema

Group – Tarpons – Elopidae

1.    Tarpon, Megalops atlanticus

Group – Chubs – Kyphosidae

1.    Bermuda chub, Kyphosus sectatrix

Group – spadefishes – Ephippidae

1.    Atlantic spadefish, Chaetodipterus faber

Group – Grunts – Haemulidae

1.    French grunt, Haemulon flavolineatum

2.    Bluestriped grunt, Haemulon sciurus

3.    White grunt, Haemulon plumieri

4.    Porkfish, Anisotremus virginicus  local Belize name “Spanish Girl”

5.    Caesar grunt, Haemulon carbonarium

6.    Spanish grunt, Haemulon macrostomum

7.    Small mouth grunt, Haemulon chrysargyreum

8.    Tomtate, Haemulon aurolineatum

9.   Cottonwick, Haemulon melanurum

10. Sailors Choice, Haemulon parra

11. White Margate, Haemulon album

12. Black Margate, Anisotremus surinamensis

Group – Snappers – Lutjanidae

1.    Mutton snapper, Lutjanus analis

2.    Gray snapper. Lutjanus griseus   local Belize name “Black Snapper”

3.    Dog snapper, Lutjanus jocu

4.    Yellowtail snapper, Ocyurus chrysurus

5.    Schoolmaster, Lutjanus apodus

6.    Cubera Snapper, Lutjanus cyanopterus

7.   Mahogany Snapper, Lutjanus mahogoni

Group – Damselfish – Pomacentridae

1.    Dusky damselfish, Stegastes fuscus

2.    Threespot damselfish, Stegastes planifrons

3.    Beaugregory, Stegastes leucostictus

4.    Bicolor damselfish, Stegastes partitus

5.    Yellowtail damselfish, Microspathodon chrysurus

6.    Sergeant major, Abudefduf saxatilis

7.    Blue chromis, Chromis cyanea

Group – Family – Albulidae

1.   Bonefish, Albula vulpes

2.   Ladyfish, Elops saurus (esp. Soft Coral Garden)

Group – Hamlets – Serranidae

1.    Back Hamlet, Hypoplectrus nigricans  

2.    Indigo hamlet, Hypoplectrus indigo

Group – Groupers – Serranidae

1.    Nassau grouper,Epinephelus striatus

2.    Graysby, Epinephelus cruentatus

3.    Red hind, Epinephelus guttatus

4.    Black grouper Mycteropera bonaci

5.    Tiger grouper, Mycteroperca tigris

6.    Harlequin Bass, Serranus tigrinus

7.    Goliath grouper, Epinephelus itajara

8.   Greater soapfish Rypticus saponaceus *

Group – Basslets – Grammatidae

1.    Fairy basslet, Gramma loreto

Group – Parrotfish – Scaridae – Protected by law from fishing

1.    Blue parrotfish*, Scarus coeruleus

2.    Midnight parrotfish, Scarus coelestinus   local Belize name “Blue Tumbler”

3.    Queen parrotfish, Scarus vetula

4.    Stoplight parrotfish, Sparisoma viride

5.    Princess parrotfish, Scarus taeniopterus

6.    Striped parrotfish, Scarus croicensis   (more common than 5)

7.    Rainbow parrotfish, Scarus guacamaia

8.    Yellowtail parrotfish, Sparisoma rubripinne

9.   Redband parrotfish, Sparisoma aurofrenatum

10. Redtail parrotfish, Sparisoma chrysopterum

11. Yellowtail parrotfish (Redfin), Sparisoma rubripinne

12. Bucktooth parrotfish, Sparisoma radians

Group – Hogfishes & Wrasses – Labridae

1.    Hogfish, Lachnolaimus maximus

2.    Spanish hogfish, Bodianus rufus

3.    Yellowhead wrasse, Halichoeres garnoti

4.    Bluehead wrasse, Thalassoma bifasciatum

5.    Slippery dick, Halichores bivittatus

6.    Clown wrasse, Halichoeres maculipinna

7.    Rainbow wrasse, Halichoeres pictus

8.    Black ear wrasse, Halichoeres poeyi

9.    Creole wrasse, Clepticus parrae

10. Puddingwife, Halichoeres radiatus

11. Criole wrasse, Clepticus parrae   (outside reef only)

Group – Squirrelfishes – Holocentridae

1.    Squirrelfish, Holocentrus adscensionis, local Belize name Welchman

2.    Longspine squirrelfish, Holocentrus rufus

3.  Dusky squirrelfish, Holocentrus vexillarius

Group – Gobies – Gobiidae

1.    Neon goby, Gobiosoma oceanops

2.    Cleaning goby

3.    Masked goby, Coryphopterus personatus  esp. at Mexico Rocks

Group – Lefteye flounders – Bothidae

1.    Peacock flounder, Bothus lunatus

Group – Batfishes – Ogcocephalidae

1.    Shortnose batfish, Ogcocephalus nasutus

Group – Trumpetfishes – Aulostomidae

1.    Trumpetfish, Aulostomus maculatus

Group – Tilefishes – Malacanthidae

1.    Sand tilefish, Malacanthus plumieri

Lizardfish – Synodontidae

Sand Diver, Synodus intermedius

Group – Pufferfishes – Tetraodontidae

1.    Checkered puffer, Sphoeroides testudineus

2.    Bridled burrfish, Chilomycterus antennatus

3.   Web burrfish, Chilomycterus antillarum

4.    Porcupinefish, Diodon hystrix

5.   Sharp nose puffer, Canthigaster rostrata

6.   Bandtail Puffer, Sphoeroides spengleri

Group – Boxfishes – Ostraciidae

1.    Smooth Trunkfish, Lactophrys triqueter

2.    Spotted trunkfish

Group – Triggerfish – Balistidae

1.    Queen triggerfish, Balistes vetula   local Belize name “Old Wife”

2.    Black Durgon

Group – Toadfish – Batrachoididae

1.   Whitelined Toadfish, Sanopus greenfieldorum

Group – Filefishes – Monacanthidae

1.    Scrawled filefish

Group – Goatfishes – Mullidae

1.    Spotted goatfish, Pseudupeneus maculatus

2.    Yellow goatfish

Group – Morays – Muraenidae

1.    Green moray, Gymnothorax funebris

2.    Spotted moray

3.    Chain Moray

4.    Purple lipped moray

Subclass- Elasmobranchii

Group – Carpet sharks – Rhincodontidae

Common Name: Nurse Shark

Scientific Name: Ginglymostoma cirratum

The nurse shark is the most commonly seen shark in Caribbean waters and inhabits reefs, channels, sand flats, lagoons, and grass flats. Individuals can grow up to 14 ft. in length but are typically smaller. This species is nocturnal and can be found during the day sleeping amid the reef, often in a sheltered area such as under a branched coral. Nurse sharks feed on crustaceans, fish and stingrays and suck in their prey with a powerful inhalation. Though they are solitary hunters at night, during the day they can sometimes be spotted in groups of up to 40 individuals while resting. This species is very docile and easy to interact with, but a few unprovoked attacks have occurred.

Common Name: Smalltooth Sawfish * (rare)

Scientific Name: Pristis pectinata

Also known as the wide sawfish, this species inhabits tropical and subtropical waters around the world and is one of only a handful to enter rivers and freshwater systems. The smalltooth commonly reaches 18 ft. in length and is characterized by its saw-like rostrum which is lined not with actual teeth, but denticles. When hunting, it will swim into a school of fish and rapidly thrash its rostrum from side to side, stunning and impaling fish. It will also use its rostrum to dig and unearth prey such as crustaceans. The smalltooth sawfish is currently classified as critically endangered as it easily gets tangled in fishing nets and has a low rate of population growth. Locally, they are found in the shallows of the lagoon behind Ambergris Caye.

Common Name: Lemon Shark

Scientific Name: Negaprion brevirostris

Another resident of shallow tropical waters, the lemon shark has gained its name from its light grey to yellow colored skin. Like the nurse shark, lemon sharks are smaller individuals, often not exceeding 10 ft. in length. They frequent coral reefs, mangroves, lagoons and bays, but will not venture into freshwater systems. This species has a wide diet including fish, crustaceans, sea birds and occasionally smaller sharks such as the nurse shark. Similar to the nurse shark, lemons are non-aggressive and no deaths from an attack have ever been recorded.

Group – Requiem sharks – Carcharhinidae

1.    Tiger shark, Galeocerdo cuvier

Order: Rajiformes (Rays)

1.   Southern Stingray,  Dasyatis americana

2.   Horseshoe stingray, Himantura schmardae (Werner, 1904)

3.  Lesser Electric Ray, Narcine brasiliensis*

4.  Yellow Stingray, Urolophus jamaicensis

Eaglerays – Myliobatidae

1.            Spotted eagle ray (Aetobatus narinari)

Toadfish – Batrachoididus

Whitelined Toadfish, Sanopus greenfieldorum *

Porifera (Sponges) 

Brown Encrusting sponge, Cliona langae (most common sponge)

Gray Tube sponge, Callyspongia vaginalis (esp. Mexico Rocks)

Orange Rope Sponge, Aplysina fulva (esp. Mexico rocks)

Green Finger Sponge, Iotrochota birotulata (esp. Wreck at North Cut)

Fire Sponge, Tedania ignis (esp. Mangrove)

Loggerhead Sponge, Spheciospongia vesparium (esp. Coral Garden)

Black Ball Sponge, Ircinia strobilina (esp. Coral Garden)

Brown Variable Sponge, Anthosigmella varians (esp. Catalain and South Tuffy)


Stony Corals – Scleractinia 

Common Brain Coral, Diploria strigosa

Knobby Hill Brain Coral, Diploria clivosa

Depressed Brain Coral, Diploria labrinthiformis

Groved Brain Coral, Copophyllia natans

Maze Coral, Meandrina meanrites

Rose Coral, Manicinia areolata

Elkhorn Coral, Acropora palmata

Staghorn Coral, Acropora cervicornis

Boulder Coral, Montastrea annularis

Lobbed boulder coral, Montastrea faviolata

Large cup boulder coral, Montastrea cavernosa

Pillar coral, Dendrogyra cylindrus

Flower  coral, Eusimilia fastigiana

Finger coral, Porities porities

Mustard Hill coral, Porities astreoides

Massive starlet coral, Siderastrea siderea

Minimal starlet Coral, Siderastea radians

Stokes starlet coral, Dichocoenia stokesii

Thin Lettuce Leaf coral, Agaricia tenuifolia 

Thick Lettuce Leaf Coral, Agaricia agaricites

Cactus coral, Isophyllia sinuosa

Rough Star coral, Isophyllastrea rigida

Golf Ball coral, Favia fragum

Spiny Flower coral, Mussa angulosa (at Hol Chan near cave)


Symbiodinium minutum sp. nov. and S. psygmophilum sp. nov. (dinophyceae),  (See blog)


Roseofilum reptotaenium (“creeping band of red filaments”). Formerly known as Black Band disease,  Phormidium 


Spaghetti worm, Eupolymnia crassicornis

Fireworm, Hermodice carunculata

Magnificent feather duster, Sabellastarte magnifica

Split Crown Feather Duster, Anamobaea orstedii

Yellow Fanworm, Nataulax occidentalis

Social Feather Duster, Bispira brunnea

Variegated Feather Duster, Bispira variegata (esp. Catalain)

Christmas Tree Worm, Spirobranchus giganteus

Horseshoe Fanworm, Pomatostegus stellatus

Spaghetti Worm, Eupolmnis crassicornis

Southern Lugworm, Arenicola cristata

Sponge worm, Haplosyllis sp.

Threadworm, Odontosyllis enopla




Penshell, Pinna carnea

Sunrise Tellin, Tellina radiata

Atlantic Wing Oyster, Pteria colymbus

Rough Fileclam, Lima scabra

Spotted Sea Hare, Aplysia parvula

Ragged Sea Hare, Aplysia dactylomela

Slimy Doris, Dendrodoris krebsii  (Mexico Rocks)

Lettuce Sea Slug, Tridachia crispata

Flamingo Tongue, Cyphoma gibbosum

Atlantic Deer Cowrie, Cypraea cervus

Measled Cowrie, Cypraea zebra

West Indian Starsnail, Lithopoma tectum

Stocky Cerith, Cerithium litteratum

Queen Conch, Strombus gigas

Milk Conch, Strombus costatus

Hawkwing Conch, Strombus raninus

Florida Fighting Conch, Strombus alatus, local Belize name Mud Conch

Tulip Snail, Fasciolaria tulipa

Trumpet Triton, Charonia variegata

Chocolate – lined Topsnail, Calliostoma jauanicum

Vase Snail, Vasum sp.

Caribbean Reef Squid, Sepioteuthis sepioidea

Arrow Squid, Doryteuthis plei

Common Octopus, Octopus vulgaris

White spotted Octopus, Octopus macropus

Caribbean Reef Octopus, Octopus briareus


Spiny Lobster, Panulirus argus

White spotted spiny Lobster, Panulirus guttatus

Spanish Loster, Scyllarides aequinoctialis

Giant hermit Crab, Petrochirus diogenes

Speckled Crab Arenaeus cricrarius
Gall Crab

Giant Mithrax, Mithrax spinosissimus

Coral Crab, Carpilius corallinus

Ghost Shrimp, Coralianassa longiventris


Red Rock Urchin, Echinometra lucunter lucunter

Pencil Urchin, Eucidaris tribuloides

Donkey Dung Sea Cucumber Holothuria mexicana 

Holothuria arenicola small found by Jerry

Tiger’s tail sea cucumber

Beaded Sea Cucumber

Five tooth Sea Cucumber

Sea Turtles

Common Name: Loggerhead Sea Turtle

Scientific Name: Caretta caretta

The largest of the hard-shelled sea turtles, loggerheads are found globally and spend most of their lives in the open ocean or in shallow coastal waters. They feed mostly on bottom dwelling invertebrates but have the largest prey list of all the sea turtles, including starfish, fish, urchins, anemones, jellyfish, hatchling turtles, and many other items. Loggerheads are mostly active during the day and spend up to 85% of their day submerged as they are capable of four hour breath holds. Locally, a large male loggerhead is spotted at Turtle Rock Island feasting on conch remains thrown overboard by a local conch fisherman.

Common Name: Green Sea Turtle

Scientific Name: Chelonia mydas

Found in tropical and subtropical waters around the globe, the green sea turtle is named for the green fat found beneath their carapace. They can be easily identified by the starburst pattern found on each of their scutes. Unlike the loggerhead, greens are primarily herbivores and are often seen grazing in shallow lagoons on various types of sea grass. Like other sea turtle species, juvenile greens typically spend their years in the open ocean and only return to shallow, coastal waters once they reach sexual maturity. Greens are classified as endangered like loggerheads, as fishing, habitat loss and predation have taken a severe toll on global populations. Locally, several greens are often spotted at Hol Chan Marine Reserve, feeding on turtle grass.

Common Name: Hawksbill Sea Turtle

Scientific Name: Eretmochelys imbricata

The hawksbill is aptly named for its beak-like mouth which it uses to scrape sponges off the reef. Unlike other sea turtles, its scutes are imbricated, or overlap, and do not form a smooth carapace. Based on its prey location, hawksbills are typically seen in shallow lagoons and over reefs, feeding. Aside from sponges, they also feed on jellyfish and anemones and close their eyes while feeding on jellies to avoid getting stung. The hawksbill is currently listed as critically endangered as it is prized for its unique carapace in several Asian countries and has been overhunted in the past. Locally, sightings occur in or over reefs where hawksbills can be seen grazing.


Common Name: West Indian Manatee

Scientific Name: Trichechus manatus

The largest surviving member of the order Sirenia, the West Indian manatee can grow over 4 meters in length and weigh over 3,000 lbs. Commonly found in shallow coastal waters, this species is quite tolerant to changes in temperature and salinity and have even been spotted as far north as New York City, and have been known to enter freshwater rivers and estuaries. The West Indian manatee is currently classified as vulnerable as a result of past over-hunting, habitat loss, and boat strikes. Locally, a male manatee is commonly found in a channel near Caye Caulker’s back reef. Manatees should never be touched and like turtles, should not be approached while they are surfacing for air, or they will be scared off and retreat.  Other sightings: Hol Chan, Turtle Rock Island.

Bottlenose Dolphins

Reef list

Mangrove list

1.  Upside down jelly fish

2.  Orange colonial tunicate, Ecteinascidia turbinata / drug: Trabectedin (Yondelis)

3.  Bat fish, Ogocephalus nasutus

4  Fire sponge, Tedania ignis

5.   Orangespotted Goby, Nes longus     Symbiont with burrowing shrimp.

Night Snorkel list

Playfull Squid , Octopus, sleeping Parrotfish, Basket Star, Lobster, Giant Mithrax, Coral Crab, Cardinal Fish, Green Moray Eel, Portunid Crab, Web Burfish, Baloonfish, light swarming Redear Sardine, light attracted Needle Fish, feeding coral polyps, seasonal bioluminescent Thread Worms, seasonal bioluminescent ostracods, nocturnal color pattern changes (e.g.Blue Tang), nocturnal behavior changes (e.g. Grunt schooling).

Spanish Loster, Scyllarides aequinoctialis

Caribbean Reef Squid, Sepioteuthis sepioidea

The most commonly sighted squid in the Caribbean, the reef squid is commonly seen hovering over reefs and turtle grass beds. Reef squid range between 6 in. and 12 in. in length and often remain a safe distance from the surface to avoid predation by birds. Individuals can rapidly change colors and have been shown to communicate by rapidly changing color, shape and texture. Reef squid are generally wary and retreat if threatened or approached rapidly. Here at TREC, if squid are encountered during a snorkel, two methods are employed to keep them close. During the day, the group forms a circle around the squid, trapping the individual such that everyone can see and observe. At night, squid can actually be put into a trance by shining an underwater flashlight on them, thus rendering them fairly immobile and curious.

Caribbean Reef Octopus, Octopus briareus
Belize name “Sea Cat”
The Caribbean reef octopus is only encountered at night and is never seen during the day. It inhabits recesses and cavities within the reef during the day and leaves the safety of its lair at night to feed. Individuals are easily identified as they are pale to intense iridescent blue/green in color and typically spread out their limbs over the substrate they are on. The reef octopus feeds on crabs, shrimp, lobster and occasionally fish. Burrows can often be identified by the pile of crab carapaces at the entrance. Individuals are not social and live a solitary life. Here at TREC, the reef octopus is commonly seen during the night snorkel and is often picked up and observed by the group, giving everyone a chance to feel its suckers.

Common Octopus, Octopus vulgaris

This species is the only octopus that may be encountered during the day snorkels and inhabit reefs, rubble, and sea grass beds. A master of camouflage, the common octopus can change body color, texture, and shape to blend in with its surroundings and avoid potential predators. Like the reef octopus, lairs can be spotted by the pile of shells and debris at the entrance. Individuals use their powerful beaks to punch a hole in the shell of their prey before sucking out the fleshy contents.

White spotted octopus, Octopus macropus, handle-able at night


During the night snorkel, a number of bioluminescent creatures can be observed. The most common are tiny bioluminescent dinoflagellates, which emit bright blue flashes in response to movement. They are brightest after several hours of darkness and glow only at night. During the night snorkel, they can be stirred simply by treading water while flashlights are off, and tiny blue flashes can be seen surrounding group members. Another bioluminescent critter commonly seen in the Caribbean is the threadworm, Odontosyllis enopla. Observed as a glowing halo near the surface, the glow is actually a cloud of bioluminescent mucus release by the female to attract males. The female can often be observed at the center of the cloud, visible as a tiny, glowing crescent. Lastly, bioluminescent ostracods can be spotted occasionally attached to rocks or the reef with their sequenced glow patterns. Males attach to the hard surface and in flashing, attract females to mate with.  Often referred to as “String of Pearls” this can be a dazzling spectacle.

Night Beach Seine list

Checkered Pufferfish (Sphoeroides testudines)

Blue Crab (Callinectes sapidus)

Speckled Crab Arenaeus cribrarius
Needlefish (Ablennes hians)

Silversides (Menidia menidia)

Blue-Striped Grunt (Haemulon sciurus)

Spot-fin Mojarra (Eucinostomus argenteus)

Schoolmaster Snapper (Lutjanus apodus)

Peacock Flounder (Bothus lunatus)

Grass Shrimp (Palaemonetes pugio)

Hermit Crab (Coenobita clypeatus)

Sharpnose Pufferfish (Canthigaster rostrata)

Spiny Reef Lobster (Panulirus argus)

Sergeant Major (Abudefduf saxatilis)

Atlantic Spadefish (Chaetodipterus faber)

Barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda)

Lined Seahorse (Hippocampus erectus)

Pale Head Blenny (Labrisomus gobio)

Gold Spotted Snake eel (Myrichthys ocellatus)

Yellow spotted Stingray (Urolophus jamaicensis)

French Grunt (Haemulon flavolineatum)

Atlantic Tripletail (Lobotes surinamensis)

Houndfish (Tylosurus crocodilus)

Spotted Sea Hare (Aplysia dactylomela)

Big-eye Scad (Selar crumenophthalmus)

Bucktooth Parrotfish (Sparisoma radians)

Redband Parrotfish (Sparisoma aurofrenatum)

Decorator Crab (Cyclocoeloma tuberculata)

Spotted Scorpionfish (Scorpaena plumieri)

Nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum)

Green Moray (Gymnothorax funebris)

Sand Drum (Umbrina coroides)

Triple fin (Lobotes surinamensis)

Threadfin (Polydactylus sp.)

Site specific lists

TREC grounds (and above) –  Green iguana, Boa constictor, garter snake, Giant land crab, Hermit crabs, Cat birds, Tree frogs, scorpions, December 18, 2013 – Large Puma concolor 


Green Parrot

Bare-Throated Tiger Heron Tigrisma mexicanum

Scarlet tanager

Hooded oreale

Orchard oreale

Black & white warbler

Great-tailed grackle

Tropical Mockingbird

Black catbird

Yucatan Jay

Great Kiskadee

Lineated Woodpecker

Pale-billed woodpecker

Cinnamon Hummingbird

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

Great Horned Owl

Common Ground Dove

White winged Dove, Zenaida asiatica 

Caribbean Dove

White-Crowned Pigeon Columba leucocephala sighting April 2,2016, June 4, 2017

Plain Chachalaca*

Common black Hawk

Common Pauraque, Nyctidromus albicollis type of nightjar


Puma, Puma concolor  (Felis concolor majensis)


Great Land Crab (or Duppy) Cardisoma guanhumi

Common Land Hermit Crab, Coenobita clypeatus


Pink toed Taurantula


Common Name: Sea Grape/ Bay Grape

Scientific Name: Coccoloba uvifera

The Sea Grape is a species of flowering plant belonging to the buckwheat family. It is typically viewed as a sprawling evergreen or small tree of about 6-7 ft, but can exceed 30 ft in height in some cases. The tree is characterized by large, round, leathery leaves which are about 7 in. in diameter. The primary vein of each leaf is red in color and leaves redden as they age. This species produces edible fruit clusters which become purplish-red when ripe. This particular individual is valued in tropical locations and on beachfront residences as it is highly tolerant of salt spray and salty soils. The tree has a number of both practical and medicinal uses. The fruits are edible raw and are often made into a jelly. The wood is used in construction of furniture and in the West Indies is boiled to produce a red dye. Medicinally, gum from the bark is used to treat throat ailments and the roots are used in combating dysentery.

Common Name: Tropical Almond/ Sea Almond

Scientific Name: Terminalia catappa

Topical Almonds are allied with white mangrove in the family Combretaceae and are not related to commercial almonds.  The nut or kernel is generally eaten raw tastes like almonds. It has been shown to have a sedative or aphrodisiac effect in test animals and nut extracts have promise in treating diabetes.

A member of the leadwood family, the tropical almond is characterized by its pagoda shape which results from a single stem that does not branch until reaching a significant height. The tree commonly reaches over 100 ft in height and has large leaves which average almost 10 in. long and 5 in. wide. When in bloom, the tree has small, white flowers and produces corky, light fruit. The fruit become reddish-purple when ripe and contain an inner nut which is edible and tastes similar to familiar almonds. During the dry season, leaves of the tree turn red, gold or copper, and eventually fall from the tree. Aside from the edible fruit and nuts, the tree has multiple other uses and numerous traditional medicinal functions. The solid, highly water-resistant wood is used in canoe-making in Polynesia, and its leaves are often employed by tropical fish breeders to keep fish such as betta healthy and to yield stronger scales. The leaves, bark, and fruit are used in treating dysentery in southeast Asia, while the fruit and bark are used to treat coughs in Samoa and asthma in Mexico. In India, the fruits are used in treating headaches, while in Mexico, they combat nausea. Through consumption or boiling, the leaves are used in fighting intestinal parasites in the Philippines and for treating eye problems and wounds in Samoa. Finally, the juice of the leaves is used in India and Pakistan for treating scabies, leprosy and other skin diseases.

Common Name: Plantain/ Banana

Scientific Name: Musa paradisiaca

Commonly known as the “cooking banana,” the plantain is a common crop in the tropics. The stem grows anywhere from 10-30 ft. in height and has large leaves which can exceed 6 ft. in length on occasion. Each plant yields fruit only once in its lifecycle, so after fruit is collected, the tree is typically cut and replanted from a piece of the stem. Fruit bundles are large and typically average 25 lbs. in weight. The large leaves are commonly used in wrapping as in the case of meats, which are wrapped in the leaves while cooking to preserve flavor. The flowers are also edible and unripe fruits are often dried and ground into flour. Plantains are used and prepared in several ways, but are prized above all for their nutritional value. They are a great source of energy and vitamins and have several other valuable qualities. Plantains and bananas are rich in iron and promote hemoglobin production, help fight anemia, and are also rich in fiber which prevents constipation. Similarly, the fruits contain a protein which the body converts to serotonin which treats depression, and are high in potassium which regulates heartbeat, brings oxygen to the brain and maintains water levels in the body. Lastly, the fruit are a good body-stabilizer and are useful at restoring body-chemical levels after smoking and help with hangovers.

Common Name: Ziricote

Scientific Name: Cordia dodecandra

This species of cordial is a member of the exotic hardwoods and is cherished above all for its extremely durable wood. The tree is easily identified by its bright, orange-red flowers which are funnel shaped and have numerous lobes. Edible fruits are also produced by the species, which are egg-shaped and yellow when mature. The dark, heavy, hard wood is used in furniture making and heavy construction and is also used to make guitars. Finally, the leaves, which are quite abrasive, are sometimes used as an alternative to sandpaper.

Common Name: Black Poisonwood

Scientific Name: Metopium brownei

Known to the Mayans as Che’Chen, this poisonwood resides in the cashew and sumac family Anacardiaceae. It is a medium-sized tree able to reach 50 ft. and can be identified by large, black, tar-like blotches where oozing sap has dried. Within the sap of the tree is Urushiol, an irritant which is also found in its close relatives, poison oak and poison sumac. For this reason, locals will often cut the tree down if they happen upon it, but this can have a negative impact on other species which rely upon the tree, as several bird species rely on the trees’ fruit as a food source. Because of the sap, the tree has few uses, but is commercially utilized for its hardwood for flooring and furniture.

Common Name: Gumbo Limbo

Scientific Name: Bursera simaruba

The gumbo is a small to medium-sized tree typically growing from 25-40 ft. in height. Individuals are easily identified by their shiny, dark red, peeling bark, which have earned them the nickname: the “tourist tree,” as their red, peeling bark resembles the skin of a freshly sunburned tourist. Gumbos are resistant to a wide range of conditions including salty soils, and are very wind-resistant and often survive hurricanes. Because of this resistance and their fast growth, they are often a popular choice for reforestation. The gumbo is often used to construct natural fences, as branches placed in the ground typically take root and grow. Similar to the black poisonwood, the fruits of these trees are a favorite among several species of bird, and are even relied upon for some long distance migrations. The gumbo has a number of human uses, but is valued most for its bark, which provides a natural antidote to the irritant found in the sap of the black poisonwood. Resin from the tree is used as glue, varnish, incense, and medicinally is used to treat gout. Extract taken from the leaves is a naturally occurring anti-inflammatory, and the wood is often used for smaller items such as toothpicks, matches, crates and boxes.

Common Name: Coconut Palm

Scientific Name: Cocos nucifera

Recognized as the most economically important tree for millennia, the coconut palm is found in tropical locations around the globe. The coconut first received its name from sailors of Vasco de Gama, who, upon returning with it to Europe, compared its husk to that of a superstitious ghost/witch called “coco.” Individual palms can exceed 30m in height and are highly tolerant of salinity and thrive in sandy soils. They do, however, require high humidity and rainfall, which is why they do not grow in hot, dry locations such as the Mediterranean. Virtually every part of the tree can be used by humans in some manner; hence the coconut palm is cherished by tropical island nations. Coconut meat is a good source of minerals and the water is nutritious and mixes well with blood, which is why it was used during World War II in emergency transfusions. “Coir,” or the husk fibers, are used for stuffing mattresses in India, and as mats, brushes, or ropes, and are even burned to repel mosquitoes. Leaves are used globally as roof thatching and the trunks are used in the construction of bridges, canoes and furniture as they are salt-resistant. The greatest threat to the coconut palm is yellow leaf disease, or lethal yellowing, which is a phytoplasma disease that is spread by the plant hopper (Myndus crudus) and results in the death of the individual in 3 to 6 months.

Reptiles and Invertebrates:

Common Name: Green Iguana

Scientific Name: Iguana iguana

One of the more common species throughout South and Central America, the green iguana is a primarily arboreal species, spending the majority of its time in trees. Individuals tend to live near a body of water and often only come to the ground to forage. Adult males often exceed 4.5 ft. in length, and can actually contain a variety of colors-including red, pink, orange and even blue. Timid in the wild, the green iguana often dives into water and swims away if threatened and like other lizards, can regenerate tails that have been broken or bitten off. This species is primarily a herbivore, consuming leaves, fruits, flowers and shoots. At TREc, greens are typically seen in almond trees.

Common Name: Black Spiny-tailed Iguana

Scientific Name: Ctenosaura similis

Similar in size to the green iguana, black iguana males will commonly grow over 3-4 ft. in length and are easily identified by the long crest of spines which travels down the neck and along the back. This species is a great climber and fond of rocky or wooded habitats as they often scale trees and rock walls. Quite evasive, the spiny-tailed iguana is recorded as the fastest running lizard on earth and is adept at escaping potential threats. Primarily herbivores, individuals feed mostly on flowers and fruit, but will occasionally consume invertebrates.

Common Name: Brown/Striped Basilisk

Scientific Name: Basiliscus vittatus

The brown basilisk is found throughout Belize and Central America and averages less than 2.5 ft. in length. It has earned the nickname the “Jesus” or “Jesus Christ” lizard as it can run on water distances of up to 20m. Their water travel is made possible by large hind feet with skin flaps between their toes which increase their surface area when running. Because of this exceptional adaptation, basilisks are often spotted basking near water bodies. At TREC they are often seen running down the road on their hind legs, which is a fight-or-flight reaction.

Common Name: Slender Brown Scorpion

Scientific Name: Centruroides gracilis

Also known as the Florida bark scorpion, this species is dark brown to black in color and is typically found under bark, stones and debris both indoors and outdoors. The slender brown is the most common species of scorpion throughout Belize and has a painful sting, but is not lethal. Stings are a defensive reflex and cause a hot, burning sensation that typically disappears within hours. At TREC they are usually found beneath the building and deck. Always shake out gear before putting it on!


Only 9 species of tarantula occur in Belize. Most species are found only in the Cayo district, but the most common individual is the Mexican red-rump tarantula (Brachypelma vagans). As with most other species, the red-rump is docile and not to be feared as it is quite reclusive. The only troublesome attribute of this species and several others is that they are prone to releasing urticating hairs. Urticating hairs are barbed hairs which are kicked off at potential predators or aggressors which cause irritation if they land on the skin or in the eyes. At TREC they are generally found in the same areas as scorpions.

Stingless Honeybees

Records show that stingless honeybees have been native to Belize for thousands of years thanks to the cultivation efforts of the lowland Maya, who used the bees for honey and religious ceremonies. The two species cultured in Belize are Melipona beecheii and Melipona yucatanica. Local species are at great risk from habitat loss, pesticides, and introduction of the non-native Africanized honeybee, which produces more honey annually, and so, is being used more by beekeepers. Locally, Melipona can be found on the grounds at TREC. Though these bees do not sting, it is said that they can inflict a painful bite.

-Mexico Rocks –    Sponges and squid are highlights.

1.   Harlequin Pipefish, Micrognathus ensenadae

2.    Sand Tilefish, Malacarithus plumieri

3.  Masked Goby, Coryphopterus personatus

-Coral Garden

1.   Indigo Hamlet, Hypoplectrus indigo

2.   Black Hamlet, Hypoplectrus nigricans

-Hol Chan – regulars

1. Tarpon

2. Pompano

3. Midnight Parrot

4. Rainbow Parrot

5. Black Margate

6. White Margate

7. Black Grouper

8. Nassau Grouper

9. Tiger Grouper

10. Green Turtles

-Turtle Rock Island

Logger head turtles, Spotted Eagle Ray, Horseshoe Ray, Southern Stingray, Nurse Shark, Blue parrotfish

-Shark-ray Alley

1.  Yeollowhead Jawfish, Opistognathus aurifrons

-Pillar Coral (site)  Psuedo-nocturnal site based on crepuscular nature of pillar coral.


1. Rose Coral, Manicina areolata

-Catalane Invertebrate Heaven (North Ambergris Caye) (90 species counted in one hour)


Bubble algae



Ball algae





Brown encrusting sponge Cliona langae

Tan Cliona

Orange ice sponge

Orange rope sponge

Pipes of Pan Sponge

Fire Coral

Boulder Coral Orbacella annularis

Large cup boulder coral Orbacella cavernosa

Shallow water starlet coral Siderastrea sideria

Finger Coral Porites porites

Lavender finger coral

Mustard Hill coral Porites asteroidea

Brain Coral Pseudodiploria strigosa

Depressed Brain coral Diploria labrinthiformes

Golf Ball coral

Stokes starlet coral

Flower coral Eusimilia fastigiata

Lettuce leaf coral Agaricia

Sea Fan

Knobby Candelabra

Sea plume

Angular sea rod

Black Sea Rod

Corky Sea fingers

Giant Caribbean anemone Condylactus

Cork screw anemone

Stinging anemone

Split crown feather duster fan worm

Social feather duster fan worm

Christmas tree fan worm

Spaghetti worm

Fire worm

Lug worm

Spiny Lobster

Peterson cleaning shrimp

Banded Coral shrimp

Arrow crab

Mysid shrimp

Mantis shrimp

Ghost shimp

Hermit crab

Black long spinned urchin Diadema

Sea Egg

Red rock Urchin

Zoanthid – Palythoa



Horse conch

Queen conch

Mud conch

Milk Conch

Fighting conch

Hawks wing conch

Vase snail

Moon snail


Top snail


Sunrise Telon

Octopus briarius

Reef squid


Bar Jack

Blue stripped grunt

French grunt


Yellow fin Mojorra

Sharp nose puffer

Queen Angelfish

Schoolmaster snapper

Sargent Major

Stoplight Parrot fish

Stripped Parrot fish

Blue head Wrasse

Spotfin Butterfly fish

Banded Butterfly fish

Four eye Butterfly fish

Yellow head Jaw fish

Yellow head wrasse


Dusky Damsel

Yellow tail snapper

Blue Tang

Surgeon fish


Slippery Dick

Orange spotted gobie

Rock beauty

Lizard fish





Sea Beans

Sea Heart Entada gigas

Horse Eye Bean Mucuna sloane

Coconut Cocos nucifera

Tropical Almonds Terminalia catappa

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