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Mexico 2018

10 September 2018 | Tagged: Senior School, Trips

"In July 2018 a group of 25 pupils took part in a Biology fieldtrip to Mexico, in conjunction with an organisation called Operation Wallacea.

Week one was spent camping in the Calakmul Forest Reserve, undertaking wildlife survey work. We were in the midst of a massive area of protected forest which stretches from Mexico into Guatamala and Belize, and it is home to jaguar and puma, spider monkeys and howler monkeys, countless birds, bats, reptiles and amphibians (and unfortunately a lot of biting insects too). We were working with university students and researchers, assisting them with their ongoing research into the populations of these animals, and adding to the data which has been collected over several years. Operation Wallacea’s efforts have helped develop the policies for the management and protection of the reserve.

Highlights for us included catching birds and bats in mist nets so that they could be measured and weighed before being released, tracking jaguar and puma through the forest and following troops of noisy monkeys through the trees. A day was spent visiting the ruins of the ancient Mayan city of Calakmul, scrambling up the huge pyramids to see the forest stretching as far as the eye could see in every direction.

The whole week was an incredible opportunity to come face to face with amazing wildlife in a spectacular environment, while learning new skills and enjoying the challenge of camping in a tropical forest.

Week two was spent beside the Caribbean Sea at the beautiful coastal village of Akumal, diving and snorkeling with turtles and stingrays and a myriad of other fish found on the coral reefs. Five pupils were already qualified divers, and so they were able to use their diving skills to help collect data for the biological research on the reefs.

The majority of pupils had not dived before they went to Mexico but they had completed a training course in Glasgow and they finished this off by gaining their PADI certification while in Mexico; they then used their new-found skills to dive on the reefs and so contribute to the biological research. Other pupils spent their week snorkeling on the coral reefs.

Everyone, whether diving or snorkeling, was able to collect data for the surveys. These included looking for early signs of coral bleaching, or surveying sea grass distribution to see how it was being affected by the large numbers of green turtles which come to feed in the bay.

Akumal Bay is a stunning spot, with palm trees fringing beautiful white sand and the sea is crystal-clear and warm, so it was an unforgettable experience."

Mr Martin Dougall, Head of Biology

Mexico 2018
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