fauna

Balam: Jaguars in Guatemala

The Maya had great respect and reverence for the jaguar, which they called balam. Jaguars were a symbol of power and strength and were believed to act as mediums for communication between the living and the dead. Scientists have been studying jaguars in the Maya Biosphere Reserve, but luckily, you don’t need to go traipsing through the jungle to see one: Guatemala City’s excellent zoo has jaguars, as does Petén’s ARCAS wildlife rescue center.

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Puerto Rico’s Coqui Tree Frog

There is one sweet sound unlike any other that you can hear throughout the island of Puerto Rico at night, and that is the song of the coqui tree frog. Rarely seen but often heard, these tiny translucent amphibians are the beloved mascot of the island.

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Belize’s War Against Lionfish

The Caribbean region’s coral reef has been battling an invasive, voracious, and predatory fish—destructive enough that it can devastate an entire reef system: the red lionfish (Pterois volitans). Belize is no exception. Countrywide, the war against the spread of lionfish is ongoing; here’s how Belize is fighting back.

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Puerto Rico’s Paso Fino Horses

Although not indigenous to Puerto Rico, the Paso Fino horse is closely associated with the island because it was here and in the Dominican Republic where the Spanish conquistadors first introduced the mixed-breed horse. The Paso Fino are superb saddle horses thanks to their unusual gait, high level of endurance, great agility, and remarkable obedience.

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Guatemala’s Land Mammals

Guatemala’s list of native land mammals is impressive, with a large variety of exotic cats, primates, and other furry creatures. Here’s a little about popular and common species, along with when and where you’re likely to sight them.

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Monkeys in Costa Rica

The liveliest and most vocal rainforest tenants, there are four species of monkeys found in Costa Rica: the white-faced (or capuchin), howler, spider, and squirrel. Their daily habits are as varied as the wide range of habitats they occupy, from the rainforest canopy to the scrubby undergrowth of the dry forests, though each species has its own niche and the species seldom meet.

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Animals Found in Costa Rica

Anyone who has traveled in the tropics in search of wildlife can tell you that disappointment comes easy. But Costa Rica is one place that lives up to its reputation. Costa Rica is nature’s live theater—and the actors aren’t shy. Learn about the hundreds of animals you’re likely–and not–to spot in Costa Rica.

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Bird Watching on Moloka‘i

Although many of Hawaii’s original bird species have gone the way of the dodo, there are still a number of rare and critically endangered native bird species clinging to existence high in the Moloka‘i forests or down on the protected seashore. For a chance a spotting one yourself, visit these protected Moloka‘i areas.

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Moon Guides Author Spotlight

Moon author Jason Frye

Jason Frye (Moon Great Smoky Mountain National Park)

Raised deep in the mountains of West Virginia, Jason Frye first fell in love with North Carolina as a kid during family vacations to the Outer Banks. In 2002, he swapped his mountains for sand dunes and his river for an ocean when he moved to Wilmington to pursue a master of fine arts in creative writing. There, his love for North Carolina deepened into a longing to stay, settle, explore, and be a part of the people, culture, and history of the state.

Along with his wife, Lauren, Jason has kayaked the marshes and waterways near his home; hang glided off the Outer Banks; explored the cityscapes of Charlotte, Raleigh, and Winston-Salem; and wandered the woods and wilds around Asheville.

A member of the Society of American Travel Writers, Jason has contributed stories to VisitNC.com, AAA’s Go Magazine, Our State magazine, Southern Living, Salt, the Charlotte Observer and Raleigh News & Observer, and acts as a culinary critic for the Wilmington StarNews.

Keep up with Jason on Instagram @beardedwriter.