Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Jim Conrad is a self-proclaimed naturalist who lives in the Yucatan in the winter months, and god-knows-where-else the rest of the year. According to his blog, he has been summering in Chiapas lately... but ni modo. The point is, Jim Conrad has a website and its a good one. What makes it good? It is unique and full of real information, the kind of thing that makes you bless the Internet.
The website is divided into four categories: Animals, Plants, Coast Wetland and Ecology of the Northern Peninsula.
What is a naturalist, anyway? Well, one definition would be someone who appreciates nature. And certainly, Jim fits in that category. His Animal section includes a subsection on Birds of the Yucatan. Over 20 birds are listed, each with their own page and their own story. What to know what's in that tree making that strange sound? Check out his list.
The Plant section is good, but left me wanting more. The horticultural plant section gives you photos and Latin names, but no information about care and growth patterns. The wild plants section is a little more interesting, with information about some strange trees and flowers that you might see growing during your Yucatan travels. Its a good reference if you are curious about that sort of thing. I found a link to www.ceiba.org, a whole website about Ceiba trees (we have one planted in our backyard... its the sacred tree of the Mayan, dontcha know). Great find! Did you know there are ten species of ceiba trees and that they are related to the baobab tree in Africa? Neither did I!
The Coastal Wetlands section explains the animals, fish and shellfish of the northern coast of the Yucatan, a very different ecosystem from the inland areas. These include such creatively named animals as Checkered Puffers and Turkey Wings. Fun!
Lastly, the ecology of the Northern Yucatan section talks about weather and climate. There's a section on hurricanes, on geology and on some of the smaller ecosystems.
OK, it's not terrifically well organized, but we forgive him. There's a lot of great information there and its not that hard to find. Jim Conrad seems to update the website fairly regularly, but the nice thing is that this information doesn't get old. A ceiba tree is a ceiba tree... and a magnificent one at that.
If you love the Yucatan, and you love nature, you'll love this website.