Sunday, November 14, 2010

Day 6 Bonaire 10-28-10

Today, Jerry shaved his face of all hairs. He was not getting a tight enough seal with his mask and it was letting water get in his mask and up his nose. It was what the problem was, so no more snortin' water now.

We were going to give the south snorkel sites one more try. First we went down to the Salt Pier to Jeannie's Glory. The surf was a little high, but we saw a few good entry areas, but what we didn't see was a lot of coral and rock formations. Meaning, there probably would not be diverse marine life.

So we skipped that site and went further south to the Invisibles Reef. There it seemed to have a few more spots where fish would hang out. Entry looked to be favorable, so we geared up and got in.

It was slightly disappointing, but not a total waste. We saw a delicate fan coral. I also chased around a Rock Beauty. And there was a quieter pair of Foureye Butterflyfish that were more photogenic than the pair I chased near the condo reef. We stayed for about an hour and decided to go back to the condo reef for awhile.

Well entry into Invisibles Reef was easy, exit was not. Surf was a little rougher and was batting us into the shallow rocks and knocking us (meaning me) off balance while I tried to get my fins off. I swallowed alot of saltwater this day. I was finally able to get my footing, but was a little banged up for the effort.

We headed to the condo for a little lunch before we dipped back in. We were so glad we did go back in. The little reef by the condo has tons of marine life and everyday it shows us something new.

Today we saw trumpetfish. They are long and skinny like needlefish, but their snouts are, well, trumpeted. But we also saw something huge and amazing.

The top of the reef in some places, is covered by only 1 to 3 feet of water depending on the surge of the surf and the pull of the tide. Several times while floating at the face of the reef, the swells have pulled me over the edge of the reef. And most spots you don't have alot of wiggle room. You have to be sooo careful not to damage the coral or touch something that could potentially be painful. As I was looking at the top of the reef during a swell, I saw the silhouette of a very large fish, then another and another. I popped my head out of the water and got Jerry's attention and told him there was something BIG on the top of the reef. He went closer to check it out.

It was really hard to look at the top of the reef because it was so close to the surface and I got water in my ears everytime I lifted my head, but kept it under the water. It puts a strain on your neck as well. But I could tell that these fish were big, multi-colored and parrotfish.

At about the same time, I unfortunately spotted what looked to be a white rattlesnake laying in the sand at the bottom of the reef. I pulled up so I could have Jerry come over and see it too. What I didn't know was that he had found an opening to the hollow top of the reef where the huge fish were and he had convinced them to move to deeper water away from the reef -coming my way. So while I'm waiting for Jerry to come look at what I knew really was an eel of some sort, this school of about 6 giant rainbow parrotfish come off the reef 5 feet from where I'm floating. I wanted to go after them, but I didn't want to lose the mark where this eel was for Jerry to see. I was so shocked, I missed the photo op, but fortunately Jerry did get some pix before they moved off. But 5 minutes later they were back at the top of the reef- sneakys. (And by the way, that eel turned brown as it got onto the rocks of the reef. Alot of the creatures we see, do this: squid, flounder, and eels so far.) We found an opening to get to the other side of the reef, to try and get a closer look, but that side is a sandy beach for swimming. The sand makes it too murky to see anything, so we got out and went to the condo.

I wanted to look up what these big fish were on the internet, and while researching parrot fish species, I got a great biology/marine science/anthropology lesson. 

We've been seeing a red and brown parrotfish and a prettier blue/green/pink/yellow parrotfish that we were assuming were 2 different types of fish and the pretty one was a rainbow parrot fish. Turns out, they are the same species called Stoplight Parrotfish. Evidently these parrotfish have 2 stages in life and can also turn from female to male. The red/brown coloring is the initial stage, and most but not all of them are female. Some Stoplight Parrotfish start directly as male (red/brown). The terminal stage is when the female and male red/brown turn into the beautiful blue/green/pink/yellow males. Weird huh?

The giant multi-colored parrotfish we saw today, really are called Rainbow Parrotfish.

They are called parrotfish because of their front teeth. They are kinda hooked like a parrot's beak. But these teeth are super sharp so they can chew off a chunk of coral and grind it up. Did you know that most sand is actually fish poop? After they eat the coral, they poop out sand. So beaches are a mixture of surf beaten coral and fish eaten coral. Fascinating no?

Class dismissed until tomorrow, where we will be going to the butterfly farm and I will probably have weird facts to tell you about them too.

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