animals in guam

Creepy Creatures of Guam: Eel

Ugh I feel grossed out already!!! I’ve never been a fan of eels, maybe due to The Little Mermaid, but they creep me out so much! Previously, I’d only seen them in aquariums and I’d be thankful that I never had to see them in real life. Until now. One day I was at Oka Viewpoint just looking out over the sea and I saw some colorful fish swimming in the coral below me. And then I saw it. An eel!!!!! I screamed and busted out my camera! I know that they are mostly harmless and blind, but that doesn’t mean that I’d want to be near one. This is why I refuse to go diving. I know, super lame, but I am terrified!! Without diving I’ve seen dolphins, eels, a shark, a manta rey, and lots of other fish. So I’m okay with that.

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Creepy Creatures: Monitor Lizard

How could I NOT do a post about the monitor lizards in Guam! I first saw one while on the River Boat Cruise sitting up in a tree catching some rays. I wasn’t too creeped out by it either! The next time time I saw two laying out in the sun on the road to Marbo Cave. These ones were about double the size of the first one I saw and they had bright yellow dots all over. At first I thought they were dead because they weren’t moving, then suddenly they lifted their legs and walked into the jungle. I was so creeped out, they look so much like alligators!

Then on a walk down the steps at Oka viewpoint I heard something big jump into the bushes and Peter, who was ahead of me, said it was a huge monitor lizard that was about 5 feet long from nose to tail!!! It’s a good thing I didn’t see that one!! The one in the photos is from Chamorro Village where they have it sitting out for people to pet. For a small donation Peter held the creature, while I took a few photos while saying “Gross!” That’s probably really rude of me. I did have the courage to touch it though, just once. The claws are pretty intimidating and the tail means serious business. These are harmless creatures, but I’m pretty sure they would eat me if they wanted to.

Creatures of Guam: Butterflies!

I used to love chasing butterflies when I was a little kid in Oregon. They were usually very small, yellow, maybe they were actually moths. I thought they were so pretty. In Guam, I don’t need to chase butterflies because they seem to be everywhere and will land on me if I’m still. I had never seen black butterflies until I moved here. It sort of feels magical when you walk through an area that hasn’t has been walked through in awhile, and tons of butterflies flutter around you.

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Things to Do in Guam: Underwater World Aquarium

There’s something about aquariums that make me feel calm and peaceful. It’s probably the low lighting, the reflection of the water, and the sea creatures swimming by. When I lived in Oregon, my sister and I loved visiting the Oregon Aquarium. I always thought it was the best aquarium I’d ever been to and it was once home to Keiko the whale! That’s why I was a bit uninterested in visiting the Underwater World in Guam. I didn’t think that any other aquarium would be better than the one in Oregon, so why bother. During my parent’s trip to Guam, we decided to check out the Underwater World Aquarium one rainy morning. We were able to get 50% off of our entrance fee with our local ID, so it turned out to be about $11.50 per person (slightly cheaper than the Oregon Aquarium but that aquarium also has a zoo which is included in the fee, Guam does not). Maybe I’m a cheapskate but every attraction on Guam seems to be double the price of what I think it should be. If it weren’t for the local discount, I probably wouldn’t do anything!!

I think I was expecting Guam’s aquarium to be the same as the few aquariums that I’ve been to, Oregon and London. At those aquariums, I saw similar or the same type of sea animals in both. Guam’s Underwater World is about double the length of the Oregon aquarium, is home to many different types of fish found in tropical waters, and for an extra fee you can dive in and swim with the sharks. I was surprised, in a good way, by the variety of tropical animals it housed and the length of the aquarium. If you’re new to Guam, this is a great place to go! Some people will never get to see most of these animals in the wild, so the aquarium is the perfect place to go. There are sharks, sea turtles, manta ray, and other tropical fish throughout the aquarium. They were all very active and easy to see. Once we finished walking through the aquarium, we entered another section that had separate displays of sea creatures including sea horses, eels, water snakes, and TONS of other fish that can be found in Guam’s waters. It took us about an hour to get through the entire aquarium. Definitely a great experience. In the evenings, it opens up as a bar so you can have drinks inside the aquarium and watch the animals swim by! I enjoyed this and had a great time. It was actually better than the two other aquariums I’ve been to!

 

Cute Creatures of Guam: Baby Boar!

For some reason I’m fascinated by wild boars. I’ve heard stories about them, but have yet to see one in the wild. Whenever I’m hiking, I’m always looking for boar tracks and can usually find a few. I’ve hiked along their trails in the jungle that seem to lead nowhere and often wonder if they’re buried somewhere under the boonies watching me as I walk by. If I ever saw one during a hike, I’d probably be terrified and not know what to do. But just the thought of them, out there, has me very curious about what they’re like. I’ve seen a few tame boars at the Talofofo Falls park, but recently I met this cute little guy at the beach! His owners had saved him from becoming someone’s food and were trying to find a good home for him (someone who wouldn’t eat him). He was as small as a kitten and, surprisingly, his fur felt soft. Isn’t he adorable?! I’m sure the wild boars I’d find in the jungle wouldn’t be so cute!

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Creepy Creatures of Guam: Bugs!

Maybe it’s the humidity, I don’t know, but all bugs in Guam seem bigger than I’ve ever seen when I lived in Oregon! There are some pretty cool ones too, like the Rhino Beetle, that I’ve never seen before. Then there are those bugs that I have seen before, only much smaller versions than the ones I see on Guam. For some reason grasshoppers like to congregate on or around my door and they are horrible at flying. As soon as I pass them they freak out, jump into the air, and fly in circles. Sometimes I’m unaware of them and they land on my clothes, get into my apartment and spazz out once inside. Peter always tries to protect me from them by shielding me as I walk past, but sometimes they fly in circles and we both run off screaming. There are also a lot of Praying Mantises, which I’m sure are around to eat all the grasshoppers. They’re so aware of their surroundings, whenever we pass by they turn their heads and watch us go. Once Peter caught a praying mantis and a grasshopper and put them in a jar together. It was only a few minutes when the mantis murdered the grasshopper and ate it. I was disgusted and Peter was intrigued (boys!). But the strangest one that I’ve never seen until I came here is the stick bug. There are also these white slugs that I saw during my Tagu’an Point walk and occasionally see around my home. They almost looked like they glowed in the dark!

Things to do in Guam: Zoo & Botanical Garden!

Why it’s taken me nearly two years to visit the zoo,  I have no idea! Nonetheless, over the holiday weekend, I finally made the visit. I actually used to live just around the corner from the zoo and during my walks to the beach, I’d hear the strange animal noises coming from the fenced area. I first visited the Guam Zoo website to see what kind of animal noises I’d been hearing. The website is very informational, easy to use and nicely done. I learned that the zoo is privately owned by the Cushing family and they have a surprising list of animals that call their zoo home.

Monday came and we headed down to the zoo in Tumon, which borders the Holiday Resort & Spa. We rang the bell for assistance and paid the entrance fee (if you ask for the local/military rate it is $10/person rather than $15 and bring cash). The first animal we spotted was the carabao/water buffalo. It was slowly drinking water from its pool. Next to him there was a white bird that sounded like it was saying, “Hello” every time we turned to walk away. In front of the carabao’s fence was a machine that dispensed animal food for $0.25. I was like, “woohooo!!” and bought a ton of food to feed the animals. Immediately, the carabao came over, recognizing the sound of the food dispenser. We fed him and proceeded on to the next animal’s area, the donkey! The donkey was one of my favorite animals. Peter fed him and I poured food down the pipe that led to his feeding bowl. He was so cute and his little legs were funny. “A donkey?” You’re probably thinking. Yes, remember that this might be the only donkey Guamanian children will ever see.  Those of us from The States seeing a flock of geese fly by during their migration might be a normal thing, but in Guam normal animals that you see day-to-day in The States don’t exist here. This being the ONLY zoo on Guam, I’m glad they provided both endemic and nonendemic animals. After the donkey I saw the deer that roam throughout Guam’s hills. I’ve yet to see deer in the wild; although, I have seen their tracks in the red dirt. My most favorite animals were the sea turtles! They’re so majestic! I also saw a wild boar that didn’t do much other than lay in the dirt. I saw regular pigs, snapping turtles, emu, ostrich (which Peter yelled, “Hey I ate one of you in the Philippines!”), macaque, birds, sharks, goats, monitor lizards, back leopard, snakes and so many more. The moray eel was my least favorite, it creeped me out. And to think that they are in Guam’s beautiful waters! Yikes.

I was very impressed with zoo, especially as it is privately owned! It was nicely maintained and the zoo keeper was very friendly. Guam Zoo is unlike any zoo I’ve ever been to, it’s quite small and houses less animals. The pens, pools and cages are well taken care of, the animals seem happy and more domesticated than at other zoos. It’s nice to be in a zoo where it’s really all about the animals and not all about making money. There are no gift shops or restaurants and you’re pretty much free to walk around and be on your own, the zoo keeper is available for questions though. I like that I was able to feed some of the animals and I was pleasantly surprised that they had a variety of animals and not just animals found on Guam.  The beautiful trees that provided shade to the entire park and the ponds (don’t forget your mosquito repellant), made me forget that just outside the fence was the hustle and bustle of Tumon’s most popular tourist area. I was so happy with my experience at the zoo and I’m thankful that the Cushing family gave this to Guam! Two thumbs up!

The Dead Whale in Guam

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Last week I read about the dead whale that washed on to the reef in Guam. The whale died at sea and ended up in Ylig Bay in the village of Yona. It was both sad and amazing. Over the weekend I went in search of the whale using the map and directions from the newspaper. The small road that leads to the private property was lined with parked cars and people walking to see the whale. We basically had to enter the private property, which included crawling under a locked chain linked fence. We walked past the person’s home and down to the beach. People have been asking me if there was a bad smell, but I didn’t smell anything. The whale had been there for a few days by the time I went to see it. As I reached the bottom of the hill, I could see the massive carcass stuck on the reef. I stood there for awhile and watched as a few crazy people walked out to touch the whale. Hopefully we will find out more about how the whale died and what they are going to do about the carcass. As far as I know, it will be on the reef for awhile!

Creatures of Guam: Carabao

I grew up in a very small town in Oregon surrounded by farms. Horses, cows and sheep were a daily presence in my life . As the daughter of a sheep herder, I watched as my dad and his friends helped the sheep birth lambs, I fed them and road around in the truck while the dogs and sheep herders herded the sheep. Taking the back roads to college everyday, I’d often see cows grazing in the pasture. Occasionally one would escape and make me late for class because it decided to stand in the road.

Guam isn’t home to many animals at all, but when I first saw a Carabao eating grass on the side of the road, I shrieked and did a double-take.  Its horns were massive and I thought it was going to charge at me! Carabao are very lazy, slow animals and don’t attack! I know that now.

The further south you go, the more common these creatures become. If you’re lucky while driving south, there is a man who walks his carabao along the roadside, but the funny thing is that sitting on the carabao’s back is his dog!

I recently spent a day at my friend’s ranch just past Mt. Lam Lam. Her family happened to have a carabao and offered to let us ride him! Peter was the brave one, as usual. He jumped on the animal and road it down the hill. There is a special way to steer the carabao using the heel of your foot and two large ropes to guide its head. At one point the carabao walked into some branches and nearly knocked Peter off of his back!

Carabao are hot commodities and people will actually try to steal these monsters! They are used as natural grass cutters, very slow carriers and to keep tradition alive.

Maybe someday I will ride the carabao at Chamorro Village…when I get the nerve!

Creepy Creatures of Guam: Balati

There are many creatures that call the ocean surrounding Guam, home. Just swimming in Tumon Bay I’ve seen a very small reef shark, needlefish and eels! The most common sea creature I see is Balati, or sea cucumber. You will rarely or barely see them move, but you know they’re alive. One day the ocean floor is clean, and the next black blobs are scattered along the beach and in the water. Although I’ve never touched one, I’ve had one thrown at me! Very recently I discovered that they come in other colors and textures. They just keep getting more gruesome-looking 😦

I think they are perfectly harmless and provide fun to the local kids who like to throw them at each other. They sometimes squirt out this white goo if squeezed. What more can I say about the Balati?

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