Snorkeling Placencia Caye

Spotted eagle ray

Snorkeling Placencia Caye via Kayak

The winds eased up on our last full day in this sunny, humid paradise. The ocean waves subsided so we could kayak from our beach-front cabana to the windward side of nearby Placencia Caye. We loosely tied the kayak to a mangrove root and eased into the water.

Snorkeling Placencia Caye
Red Mangrove

Plant, Rock or Animal?

Surprisingly, corals are animals. They are related to jellyfish and seastars but are fixed in place. Corals secrete a calcium carbonate “skeleton, ” giving them a white, rigid structure. Scientists can age coral by counting the rings on the rings in this skeleton, much like trees are aged.

Snorkeling Placencia
Cushion star coral (?) on the left embraced by the anemone (tan) on the right,

Coral are colorless. The color we see comes from symbiotic algae. This alga provides up to 95% of the coral’s nutrition. In trade, the coral gives the alga shelter and CO2. In coral bleaching, warmer water causes the symbiotic relationship to break down, and the coral expels the algae. The coral isn’t dead, but it is starving. It can survive short-term bleaching events. It’s the persistent warming that does them in. Isn’t that an amazing animal?!?

Placencia Caye Reef

The coral here is not as diverse as the previous days’ snorkels. No urchins are tucked into cavities, and no tubeworms adorn the coral heads, but the starfish are plentiful! They are all subtly unique in their patterns and shades of orange.  These photographs are of six different animals.

Occasional pairs of kayakers paddle by, but otherwise, we’re alone with the corals, fish, and marine life.

Regarding a Ray

Rob spied a spotted eagle ray effortlessly, flapping and floating past. He called to me, and I saw it just as the ray disappeared into the hazy blue.

Snorkeling Placencia
Spotted eagle ray

A while later, the ray reappeared just at the edge of my visibility and made a wide turn circling back as I watched. Spotted eagle ray

He came around behind me, turned toward me, and stopped, seemingly studying me, just for the briefest of moments. Then he and his remora companion turned back toward the deep and disappeared for the last time.

Spotted eagle ray
Regarding each other.

Reef Life in Miniature

On the swim back to the kayak, I floated through very shallow water, playing with my camera’s macro (close-up) feature. These are the undersea companions to the lichens and fungi I love photographing on dry land.

The algae move in the current and waves, as do I, but we’re not in the same rise of the swells, so it’s hard to time a picture when I’m still and when the algae are still. It’s a fun challenge.

Snorkeling Placencia
Sea grape. They are unusual because they consist of only one cell with many nuclei, making them among the biggest single cells in the world.

This snorkel had a little bit of everything. Of course, being on our own schedule adds to the allure. I’d definitely snorkel here again.

Read about the other places I snorkeled out of Placencia here.

Snorkeling Placencia Caye
Snorkeling Placencia Caye

If you’re interested in purchasing or licensing any images you see here, please email me: SNewenham at, and I’ll make it happen.

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6 Replies to “Snorkeling Placencia Caye”

  1. What beautiful pictures of such an colorful array of animals. I enjoyed just floating along with you from one place to another feeling tranquil. I think that Ray has also heard of you and had to double back to be sure and then go off and spread the word that Sheila was here.

    1. Thank you, Charity! There’s not a lot of info about beach snorkeling, so I’m glad I can help you plan your trip. If you read my other Placencia blog (, you’ll see how much more I enjoyed the beach snorkel at the Caye, although the tours have their benefits, too. Thanks for reading. Enjoy your trip!

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