Belize it or not: The shark petting zoo

Hello from Belize! What a beautiful little country this is.

I have wanted to come here forever, being a diver and all. As you probably know, the Belize Barrier Reef (stretching from Yucatan all the way to the coast of Guatemala) is the second largest reef in the world, after the Great Barrier Reef.

We took our first dive trip today, right off the Ambergris Caye island. It was just a shallow dive with a bunch of snorkelers who desperately wanted to “see some sharks.” This part of the reef is know for its abundance of nurse sharks, pretty harmless types of sharks who eat by suction (hence the name). Still, they are sharks, aka beautiful creatures.

The dive instructor threw in some bait (an enormous fish head) and a few minutes later, a bunch of sharks (I saw five, the largest at least two meters long) and sting rays (the largest was over a meter across) came by for the feast. It was an incredible sight.

I don’t know how I feel about the whole “petting the shark and sting ray” aspect of the whole thing. The instructors caught a couple of the sharks by the fin and let everyone in the group touch them. Same with the sting rays. I felt a little bad for them. I can’t be good for them to have a hundred people a day touch them, right?