Snorkeling paradise

Eagle rayThe ocean just off of our resort is protected by a long reef several hundred yards out which absorbs much of the wave action coming in from the open ocean.  I had snorkeled on our arrival day but it was now Sunday and Sandy was taking her first opportunity to come explore with me.  The sea was gentle and as we began our swim the sandy floor gave way to occasional rock and coral clusters and eventual to a reef.  Scribbled Rabbitfish and Convict SurgeonfishThe sea went from a few feet deep to more than twenty feet at the far end of the reef.  In towards shore, the visibility was a little obscured by sand that was kicked up by the slight waves which lapped against the shoreline.  By the time we reached the far end of the reef, the visibility was much improved and we were able to see off into the distance.  This is how Sandy was able to spot an eagle ray on our final snorkel Tuesday morning.

Picasso TriggerfishWe snorkeled each day, making five trips altogether into the water.  And we saw a wide variety of sealife.  The first fish I saw were convict surgeonfish and picasso triggerfish.  The picasso triggerfish is appropriately named, a true work of art, and I think one of the most beautiful fish I’ve seen on this trip.  I couldn’t believe my luck when I first saw one.  Although I soon learned that no luck was involved… this is one of the most common shallow reef fish and we see them quite frequently.

Ornate Butterflyfish

 

There are more types of butterflyfish down here than I have ever seen.  Saddled ButterflyfishPyramid butterflyfish, saddled butterflyfish, ornate butterflyfish, big longnose butterflyfish (not to be confused with longnose butterflyfish), and double-saddle butterflyfish to name just a few.

 

 

Network PipefishWe also saw octopus (it was too fast so no picture), eel, pipefish, cornetfish, lionfishClearfin Lionfish (a different species then the invasive one we find in the caribbean), damselfish, and so much more.

 

 

One of my favorites were these three-spot dascyllus whose juveniles would swim Three-spot dascyllus juvenilles hiding in the anemone.around in the sea anemones while the adults would guard the perimeter.  They seemed to have no fear and when I approached too closely they came at me, these inch long dark colored fish charging me and Three-spot dascyllus chasing off the invader (i.e. me!)veering off at the last moment.  When that didn’t work they charged again, this time nipping at my hands or at the front of my camera.  It didn’t hurt but it did startle me each time I felt a little bite.  After getting a few photos, I let them win and slowly swam away from their home.

Three-spot dascyllus nipping at my fingers

Lemonpeel AngelfishThis is a spot where I wish we had a couple of scuba tanks.  We could just go to the far side of the reef and dropdown to 20 or 25 feet, swimming along the reef, peeking in holes and underneath ledges.  I did do some freediving which I’ve gotten pretty good at.  FrenchPoly_20140525_1234_102_1000But it’s not the same as being able to slowly drift along, taking your time and exploring.

 

We finished the day up with a dinner of cheese and bread and wine that we had bought earlier in the day at the local store.

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