A few days, we learned the sad news of Sonny Garbutt’s passing. I first got to know Sonny over 20 years ago when he helped with a baseline study on the health and status of the Monkey River Watershed along with other watershed residents and Dr. Peter Esselman. The team based out of BFREE for a portion of the study, and I was fortunate to join them as an “assistant/cook” during a foray up into the Bladen Nature Reserve a few days walk from BFREE. It was then that I first felt his strong, but calm presence. His genuineness and unique sense of humor, and his encyclopedia level knowledge of the Monkey River and the natural world.
Over the years Sonny became a part of the BFREE family. He helped with construction projects here at the field station, captained boats for our student groups out on the Belize Barrier Reef, and sometimes provided lectures and told stories related to marine and freshwater conservation topics, sharing his passion for the sustainable use of Belize’s marine resources. He welcomed us and our field courses into his community and his home – always sharing his love for Monkey River and the sea that touches its shores. Sonny also become a close friend of my family and would spend time with my kids over the years, including leading a small group of us down the Bladen River from BFREE to Monkey River Village on an epic two-day canoe trip that we will never forget. He touched our lives in so many ways.
Rest in Peace Sonny, you will be missed.
Jacob Marlin and the BFREE family