I was snorkeling around the dock the other day, and look what I found, a huge star fish.
The names "starfish" and "sea star" essentially refer to members of the Class Asteroidea. However, common usage frequently finds "starfish" and "sea star", which are correctly referred to as "brittle stars" or "basket stars".
There are 2,000 living species of starfish that occur in all the world's oceans, including the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian as well as in the Arctic and the Southern Ocean (i.e., Antarctic) regions.
TEN FACTS ABOUT STAR FISH
1. Sea stars are not fish.
2. Sea stars are related to sand dollars, sea urchins, and sea cucumbers.
3. There are thousands of sea star species.
4. Not all sea stars have 5 arms.
5. Sea stars can regenerate a lost arm.
6. Sea stars are protected by armor.
7. Sea stars do not have blood.
8. Sea stars move on their tube feet.
9. Sea stars eat with their stomach inside-out.
10. Sea stars have eyes.
I wanted to show you this green iguana. He's not something you typically will find in North America. I thought, he was kind of neat. They are found in Mexico, Central America and parts of South America.
This is a full-grown iguana and is about 5 feet long (including the tail). In addition to it's green color, it has black stripes. Green iguanas, not surprisingly, are green in color, but can be found in many different shades ranging from bright green to a dull grayish green. Their skin is rough, with a set of pointy scales along their back. Green Iguanas have long fingers and claws to help them climb and grasp, like what you see here.
Green Iguanas can hear and smell very well, and have superb vision. Their long tail is also quite sharp, and is snapped in the air as a defense mechanism. You can see here, Charlie, is not upset that I am holding him. A green iguana's skin is very water resistant, and tough to avoid cuts and scratches. The color of the skin, helps camouflage him within the foliage. If they need to escape quickly, they have been known to leap from trees into water, and swim do swim well. Both male and female Iguanas can store fat under their jaws and in their necks for times when there is not much food available.
Iguanas live in tropical rain forest areas, like Belize. They can be found in lower altitudes in areas near water sources, such as river or streams. They spend most of their time high in the forest canopy, about 40-50 feet above the ground. Iguanas are diurnal, meaning that they are awake during the day. They are cold-blooded, which means they do not produce their own body heat. In other words, a green iguana is cold to the touch. To stay warm, iguanas bask in the sun, lying on warm rocks, as they soak up the sun's heat.
Green iguanas tend to live alone, but you may see them in groups occasionally in good sunny basking spots. Iguanas lay eggs, about 50 at a time, in holes in the ground called burrows. After a female iguana lays her eggs, she will leave them and not return. When iguana babies hatch, they grow up without care from their parents. Green iguanas lay many eggs, but only 3-10 babies will actually survive. It takes about 7-10 weeks for an egg to hatch and 2 years for a baby to become an adult.
Green iguanas are omnivorous, which means to all you kids, they tend to eat mostly plants, leaves and fruit. Sometimes green iguanas when they are young, will eat eggs, insects and small vertebrates.
Tony Garel, at the Belize Zoo & Tropical Education Center, is working on a project to help conserve the iguanas and educate the local communities as to their importance in our environment. Tony has used captive breeding techniques to increase green iguana populations, and has released some of these iguanas into the wild.
This blog is about one of our families adventures to the Belize Zoo, back in January of 2010. Every now and again, mom tells us to pack a day bag and off we go, headed for another adventure in Belize. Today, our trip took us to the Belize Zoo. I have to tell you, the Belize Zoo is at the top of our list. It is probably the one adventure, we do more than any other tour. I never get tired of seeing the animals and discovering something new at the zoo.
The zoo is a great place for us kids to learn about Belize. You aren't going to see any elephants, lions, tigers or bears here. Every animal in the zoo is native to the country of Belize. All the signs have been hand painted and are written in Creole, a dialect spoken here in Belize.
We enjoyed seeing this one particular deer, who seemed to be hanging his tongue out every time we came by. We'd walk away, and he'd pull his tongue in. We'd come back and he'd hang his tongue out. I guess that was his way of telling us, "feed me".
We got to see something new on this trip, that we hadn't seen before. The White Lipped Peccary Pigs! Oh my goodness, were they stinky! Another real treat for me (this time at the zoo), was getting to hold a boa constrictor. Like I said, each time we come to the zoo, I get to experience something different.
So if you're looking for something fun and exciting to do with "your kids", do what my mom does, and take your kids to the zoo!
The best little zoo in the whole wide world.