Thumbs Up for the Blenny.

Toothless and tiny but with oh so much character this little spiny head blenny is so funny to watch.  Always darting in and out to eat a morsel of plankton its antics are almost comical.  If you hang around it will become comfortable with you and stick out of its worm hole.  Being so tiny it needs to be ever so watchful; notice how it rolls those big eyes, in the photo below, to keep tabs on what is going on around it.  Notice something else in the first photo.  The coral looks similar to a human hand and thumb, complete with fingernail, which adds even more character to the photo.  Thumbs up for the blenny!

Belize - Off the Beaten Path With Alia and Brandon

Mary and I had the pleasure to dive with Alia Statham and Brandon Hill on the Sun Dancer II in Belize.  As we boarded the flight home Alia and Brandon were heading off on another adventure in a remote village in southern Belize.  Called a "home stay" you live for a few days with a family, eating their meals, sleeping in their house and learning about each other.

Brandon wrote me an e-mail of their experience that is both funny and informative so I asked Brandon if I could share it on my site.   These are the experiences that separate a traveler from a tourist.  Mary and I are enriched by meeting folks like Alia and Brandon and we hope you enjoy the story of their Belize "home stay" experience.

Color of Emotion

Little is known about the color patterns of the octopus. They will change their color and shape to hide from predators. A close observation tells us that some patterns seem to display emotion as in this photograph. Is it fear, bravado or surrender? Who knows, but we do know that the octopus displays intelligence so perhaps this is their communication to us but we are not intelligent enough to understand it.

Radisson Pier Belize City After Hurricane Richard

Our Sunday afternoon meal was interrupted by the General Manager of the Radisson Hotel in Belize City with an announcement that Tropical Storm Richard had indeed turned in to a Category 1 Hurricane and was headed directly for Belize City.  He expected it to reach the Radisson around 3pm and gave us a briefing on what to expect.

To our surprise the restaurant was full of people as a group heading to Turneffe Island was forced to take refuge in the hotel.  As soon as the General Manager began speaking a buzz of conversation filled the room and folks started heading to the buffet to take food to their room.  You would have thought this was their last meal as the buffet was cleaned out in a matter of minutes and everyone dispersed quickly to their rooms.

Hello Lionfish - Goodbye Reef?

Consider that in 2003 Mary and I stayed a Lighthouse Reef Resort in Belize and did not spot one lionfish in over twenty dives and then in 2005 and again not one lionfish, yet, last week in 3 ½ days of diving aboard the Sun Dancer II we spotted over 50.

Mary and I observed that the lionfish has a tendency to huddle and hunt in groups of three to four. The group will pin their prey with their pectoral fins before swallowing them whole. Recent research by Dr. Mark Hixon and his team from Oregon State University with support from NOAA’s Undersea Research Program (NURP) found that lionfish reduce the net recruitment of coral reef fishes by an estimated 80%. The consequences to the Caribbean eco-system cannot be overemphasized. Dr. Hixon’s team observed one lionfish eating 20 small wrasses during a 30 minute period. Recent studies have disclosed that the small fish that are consumed by the lionfish, (stomach content analysis has documented predation of cleaner fish), if reduced significantly will impact the abundance of reef fish by one-fourth and diversity by one-half.

Happy Halloween!

Sailfin Blenny

The Sailfin Blenny is only about 1-2 inches and very hard to get a photo of because it will dart from it's hole and then dart back. We found this little guy at a dive site called Tormentos in Cozumel. A little patience allowed me to photograph the rarely seen but distinctive sailfin.

Magnificent Feather Duster

Perched on the tip of a giant star coral head this large crown of radioles offset beautifully with blue water background. Although magnificent this is really a worm. The appendages, radioles, act as both its gills and a way to capture plankton, that are then moved to its mouth located in the center of the feathery crown.

Reef Scorpionfish

Nestled in a crevice we found this timid looking reef scorpionfish. You will notice the black spines of a long-spine urchin hanging over the scorpionfish. These long barbed spines are needle-sharp, just the right protection for a skittish little fish that needs to get some rest.

We tried several times to get a better shot but the reef scorpionfish kept moving around and every time my flash went off he moved to a different spot. You can’t see it but the wall was covered with long-spined urchins and every time I moved in closer the spines would rotate and point toward my hands making for a very unpleasant experience on several occasions.

I have rarely seen a reef scorpionfish that was not using a long-spine urchin for protection. I believe this may be a symbiotic relationship called facultative commensalism, which means that the scorpionfish gets a safe place to rest (smart little bugger) but the long-spine sea urchin receives no benefit from the relationship.

I really like the color and texture of this sponge. Notice the reef scorpionfish in the background.

Tipping Point

Perched precariously upon dead coral the barrel sponge (It may be a leathery barrel sponge) has grown so rapidly that it has overgrown its host. Any unprotected surface on a damaged coral head will permit a sponge to colonize it. This is one reason that dive guides ask us to be careful to not touch or hit live coral with our fins.

Overshadowing the coral the barrel sponge prevents light from reaching it and as boring sponges burrow into it from below they will eventually erode and destroy the whole coral head.

Warty Corallimorph

Below me was a large mat of beautiful underwater flowers. I put my hand over the golden wart like tentacles that radiated out from the center and felt the rubbery texture. Puzzled, I could not identify what this critter was. It looked like an anemone but the pattern told me it might be something else. I motioned to Mary and pointed, she gave me this I do not know shrug and placed her hand over the tentacles. I took out my slate and wrote “anemone?” and she shook her head with a look of uncertainty so I took a couple of quick photos to identify it when we got home.

We were diving with Kay Wilson of Indigo Dive St. Vincent at “The Steps”. This dive site is next to the shore of St. Vincent at an ancient (relatively speaking) spot where islanders would come to bath and throw their trash out. You might find a treasure of trash sunk into the sand like old bottles but more than likely, you will find a wealth of critters on this dive.

Diamond Rock

At a certain point in the day the rays of the sun glisten off this diamond shaped rock and you can literally see how it got it's name. On closer inspection the substance reflecting the rays of the sun is bird poop.

The World Looks Very Different From Up Here

Why do I stand up here? Anybody?...I stand upon my desk to remind yourself that we must constantly look at things in a different way.

Back Side of Middle Cay

Concentrating on framing a shot of a sand diver I heard a faint yet familiar sound off in the distance. Looking around somewhat bewildered about where it was coming from I looked over at Mary but she was busy searching for a critter with the beam of her light. Then I heard it again, louder yet still distant. I got Mary’s attention and pointed my finger to my ear and she looked at me with a puzzled look. I swam over to her and wrote on my slate “whale song”. She beamed a smile and began searching the abyss for any sign of the behemoths.

Sharptail Eel

Slithering along the bottom bobbing its head side to side as if sniffing a scent the sharptail eel hunts its prey. Oblivious to our presence it charges forward at a fast speed apparently sensing or smelling a meal. I move my leg as it dodges under me, it is fully intent on catching some invisible prey. Stopping abruptly just below me it sticks its head, with those tubular nostrils, in a small hole but quickly loses interest and slithers on toward another opportunity.

I Love Grouper Fingers

I like grouper fingers! I don‘t think you understand how much I REALLY like grouper fingers. There is nothing better than sitting at a table in some remote Caribbean location with a beautiful view of the ocean and a big plate of grouper fingers and French fries. YUM!

Now I am a carnivore, after all my father was a butcher, and I love to eat meat and fish but I have come to understand that many of my eating practices are not sustainable. We are over harvesting certain species that are critical to the health of our oceans and the grouper is one of them.

My Brother James - The Great Lionfish Catcher

I spoke with my brother James this week about the recent dive trip he led to CoCo View Resort in Roatan. Liz Wayne the long time manager left in February and Mitch and Deb Karlson from Texas have replaced her. James was very impressed with Mitch and Deb and he says they are doing a great job of making guests feel at home.

Pin Cushion Seastar

What do politicians and sea stars have in common? They are both bloodless, brainless critters that will eat you alive. Okay, I couldn’t resist the joke but it is true that the sea star has no head, brain or blood. Yet the politician has a head and blood but no brain, go figure.

A sea star is an echinoderm, which means “spiny skin” and literally uses water as it’s blood. The fluid within it’s vascular system is seawater with some cellular and organic material thrown in. It uses this fluid to move its tube like feet, transport food and supply oxygen and carbon dioxide to it’s body. Quite an amazing critter especially considering it’s ability to regenerate a lost limb.

Trumpetfish Comedic Master of Camouflage

Have you ever seen a kid playing hide and seek that is hiding behind a curtain with their legs and feet showing. They think they are completely hidden from you because they cannot see you, so you must not be able to see them. Well that is what I think about every time I see a trumpet fish. A comedic master of mimicry and camouflage you will see them drifting with their head down in a gorgonian swaying back and forth with the current trying to, like the child, blend in so you cannot see it. Often you will see them straddling a grouper or other large fish in the hopes of stealing a morsel or two should the opportunity arise. This is how they feed by stealth getting very close to their prey and then sucking them quickly into their mouth. The trumpet fish mouth is capable of swallowing surprisingly large prey.

Be In a Hurry

As we loaded our gear on the dive boat we saw a little old woman standing on the pier. I remember she wore a red one piece swimming suit that drooped and sagged so much I feared it would fall off her old wrinkled skin. She greeted each diver with a kind word and a gleam in her eyes and then stepped aboard with a ready to go smile as the captain handed her snorkel gear to her.

Spotted Goatfish

Sinking to the sandy bottom on a dive in Saba Mary and I settled in to watch some goatfish feed.  If you dive you have probably passed by these ubiquitous fish without a second thought.  Next time slow down and observe the beauty of the texture, shape and color of this common fish and you just might be amazed.

The spotted goatfish  can dramatically change color from white to blotched and mottled red to reddish brown when inactive.  If you are very still they will approach closely.  Look at the beautiful symmetry of the overlapping scales.  Look closer and you will see the scales have yellow tips that give the appearance of light waves rippling across the body.  Light blue dashes streak from the mouth across the eye to the tail fin as if painted on by a brush.  A row of three large brown blotches look as if an artist just dabbled her brush on the canvas of his body as an afterthought.

The Great White Wall

In the Somosomo straits of Fiji sits Rainbow Reef home of the Great White Wall. If you make it past the ripping current you will enter a tubular cave and exit at about 75 feet where an amazing site will greet you. A snow covered mountain filled with white soft coral that spreads before you like a ski slope. To say that it is breathtaking is an understatement.

Hawksbill at Punta Tunich

I told my great nephew Deacon that I would post some pictures of turtles for him.  I took these at Punta Tunich in Cozumel and they are dedicated to Deacon and MacKenzie his sister.

Stratman Trunkfish

The wreck of the tug boat Stratman sits upright in about 60 feet of water.  Intentionally sunk in Bequia as a dive site it rests on a sandy bottom surrounded by turtle grass.  I was searching for little critters around the stern when I saw Mary start to move slowly starboard off from the bow toward a curious piece of wreckage that resembled a feeding trough.  Several trunkfish, a whitespotted filefish and  porcupinefish were moving in and out of two parallel piece of steel.  Schools of brown chromis were swimming over it flitting back and forth like butterflies and a stream of creole wrasse was streaming overhead round and round like a roller coaster.

Bequia Dive Adventures

Upon arriving in Bequia we hurriedly unpacked our dive gear and headed over to check in with Bequia Dive Adventures.  We found the dive shop a couple of buildings over from the Gingerbread House.  I knew we were going to like this place because the building had so much character reminiscent of what you used to see in the Caribbean.  Painted on one wall of the small green and blue building were two mermaids being chased by an open armed scuba diver.  A couple of dogs were laying next to a green picnic table seemingly unimpressed with our arrival, a large dive flag hung from a pole out front and a walkway  led into Admiralty Bay so you can wade out to the dive boat anchored in waste deep water.  

Ruby Brittle Star

Pulling itself over the sand on its five arms was a ruby brittle star.  We were amazed at how fast it could move.  It looked to be in a great hurry, I would suspect to find a place to hide from us awesome creatures.  Having no head, eyes or ears, I wonder how it knew we were there and maybe it didn't.  Who knows, it could have just wanted to find a safe spot to hide until night time when it could come out and eat.

Beyond Pissed - Open Letter to Mr. Hayward

News flash from The Australian dated May 24, 2010.

BP's chief executive has told staff he is frustrated by the company's failure to stop an oil leak in the US Gulf of Mexico and warned that an attempt to do so starting next week could fail.

In an email to staff late on Friday, local time, Tony Hayward said: "I have shared a huge sense of frustration that we have not yet been able to stop the leak", which started a month ago when a rig leased by BP exploded and sank.

Mr Hayward said an effort to cap the well using heavy drilling fluids, a process known as "top kill" that is due to be implemented this week, "would be another first for this technology at these water depths and so we cannot take its success for granted".

Arc-Eye Hawkfish

In the Atlantic there is only one member of the hawkfish family, the redspotted hawkfish, and it is a testament to the biodiversity of the Pacific Ocean that there are at least 15 hawkfishes, maybe more.  Perched on coral this Pacific arc-eye hawkfish waits to ambush small fish or crustaceans.  Not having a swim bladder to provide buoyancy it must dart out to capture prey and then return to rest, perched on its pectoral fins.

Well I Never - A Most Pecular Dive Spot

We anchored in a shallow bay separated by a long black sand beach from a sporadic row of restaurants and hotels. I look down and see sun-dappled ripples of sand through the clear water and off our bow a dark oasis of turtle grass. I’m thinking this is a most peculiar spot for a dive site but the intriguing name has me interested and also wondering how it came to be called, Well I Never.

Proud to be Making a Difference in the Lives of Children

My project will expose students to current events in Science through Weekly Reader's "Current Science" magazine. Most of my students are from impoverished backgrounds and have received few chances of being exposed to current events. Most of the households do not receive newspapers.

I want to use "Current Science" Weekly Reader to make science more relevant to students. Each issue covers covers every area of the science curriculum—life, earth, and physical science, plus health and technology. Content reinforces National Science Education standards. Inquiry-based learning activities make science come alive and excite students' interests. There are also cross-curricular activities that build reading comprehension, math, critical thinking, writing, and vocabulary skills. Therefore, I will connect science across the curriculum.

Porcupinefish - Spotted Spiny Puffer

You have to love this fish with its bulky shaped head, distinctive black spots covering it's body and those huge cow like eyes.  This porcupinefish was so curious that it kept circling to look at me.  It would back off a little ways and then come in again to look with it's other eye.

Brother Orton King - The Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary

How often do you get to meet a real person? A funny question I know but I am asking it honestly because we live in a world of phony people and to meet a real person is quite rare. Well Mary and I had the pleasure to meet a real man on Bequia. He calls himself Brother King and his mission is saving turtles at the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary.

Our time on Bequia was short so I asked Laury Stowe, with Bequia Dive Adventures, what would be the one thing we should do in Bequia.. Without hesitation he said, go to the turtle sanctuary.

The Wall at West Cay - A Virtual Dive

With Casio at the helm our skiff flew over the surface of the water heading west past Moonhole to a barren spit of rock known as West Cay. I pulled my hat down over my head and put my mask on so I could see into the wind. Mary looked over at me and laughed! What the hell it worked and I was the only one on the boat with a camera so you will just have to imagine what I looked like.

St. Vincent - Critter Capital of the Caribbean

With dive sites named "Well I Never" and "Critter Corner" you know you are about to experience something special. St. Vincent is known for muck diving in sand and turtle grass but it offers so much more. A diversity of small critters not found anywhere else in the Caribbean and Kay Wilson,owner of Indigo Dive St. Vincent, is an expert at finding them. We put together this slideshow with accompaniment of "Dive Into You" by Austin Wilacy. Click full screen for best viewing. Hope you enjoy it.

Bequia Sweet Sweet!

On Bequia we stayed at a quaint little place called the Gingerbread House facing Admiralty Bay. Each morning Mary and I were awakened by the chirping of birds. One bird in particular always had a special message for us. The Carib called it a “Grackel” and the early explorer and naturalist Frederick Ober in his book Camps in the Caribbes, written in 1880, described it thusly:

On Bequia…is a blackbird, a new species named the Quiscalus Luminosus, which makes the air respond with a joyous cry:

“Bequia, Sweet Sweet, Bequia Sweet!”

Banded Jawfish - Scuba Club Cozumel

After our morning boat dives and lunch we got a tank and headed for a shore dive. We had noticed a shell lined hole the night before on a shore dive at Scuba Club Cozumel and Mary and I wanted to get a look at the occupant.

We found the hole at the mouth of a small cove in about 15 feet of water. This shell lined burrow is the home of the banded jawfish. They excavate the sand with their big mouths and move stones and shells around it with their powerful jaws. They only grow to about 6 inches but their head is huge in relation to their body.

Batwing Coral Crab vs Spanish Lobster

Talk about crabby!  Mary spotted a creature and shined her light into the recess of a coral mound.  Suddenly sand came shooting out of the crevice and Mary motioned me over to have a look.  A batwing coral crab and Spanish lobster were having a very lively disagreement over something.  Just a quickly as it started it was over.  The obvious winner was the batwing coral crab who set about cleaning up after the altercation.  The Spanish lobster moved up the coral mound and, if he had had lips, I am sure he would have been pouting.

Both the Spanish lobster and batwing coral crab generally hide during the day and forage for food at night.  We have observed that a lot of critters considered to be nocturnal are seen more frequently during the day. 

The Cove - Take Action

On our bellies, hanging off the bow, Mary and I watched dolphins effortlessly ride the bow wake. Two adults swam on each side of the bow. A baby, amazingly fast, darted in and out among the adults. Not able to match the speed of the adults the baby eventually peeled off and was immediately followed by one of the adults, its mother perhaps?

Three adults easily keep pace with the boat as one flips over on her back. Mary claps and shouts with delight as the dolphin shows off her skill at swimming upside down. Her belly is swollen, she is pregnant, and Mary instinctively reaches out her hand knowingly.

Sea Anemone Mouth

Sea Anemones are members of the phylum Cnidaria (Nigh-DARE-ee-uh) derived from the Greek cnidos, meaning "stinging nettle" because they have stinging cells called nematocysts.  The anemone has numerous tentacles with these stinging cells embedded in them and if something comes in contact with the tentacle the stingers will discharge.  All quite fascinating but probably the most interesting and beautiful part of the sea anomone is its mouth which also functions as its other end as well.

Encircling the mouth are a number of tentacles to catch prey and particles suspended in the water.  If you place your hand on the tentacles you will notice that they are sticky and will stretch with your hand as you pull it away.  Don't worry the nematocysts cannot penetrate your palm.
We observed many varieties of anemone in the Pacific Ocean.  This picture gives you an idea of how big the anemone can grow.  Notice the clownfish swimming about.  Clownfish live in a symbiotic relationship with the anemone providing a very secure home which the clownfish will tenaciously defend.

Reflections of Beauty

It is said that the eye is the window of the soul, yet, fish are said to have no soul. Its window is a reflection of expressionless darkness encased in beauty for what purpose?

Giant Hermit Crab - Cozumel

After two wonderful morning dives on a small fast boat we had decided to take the afternoon cattle boat, something we are usually loathe to do, but this being our last dive day we hated to waste the opportunity for one more dive on Villa Blanca Wall in Cozumel.

Bearded Fireworm

End of the diving week and you enter that time of purgatory; the preflight surface interval.  You cannot dive before your flight and you have every intention of doing one of those interesting things you saw in a  brochure, like hiking remote trails, birdwatching, fishing, museums, you know all that tourist stuff.   So you grab your snorkel gear, head back to the beach and jump in.  Why dry out before you have to?

Mantas of Yap Part 3 - Final Encounters

For two more days we dived the same spot with each successive dive better than the last. It was as if the Mantas were coming to observe us and had asked all their friends to join them. On one dive I counted eleven Mantas and Gordon said he counted twenty-two.

Mantas of Yap Part 2 of 3 - First Encounters

After a 60 minute surface interval and constant reassurance from Gordon that we would see Mantas we did a back roll into our second dive.

Repeating the same procedure we had on our first dive we lay on the bottom staring into the dark water ahead. Waiting what seemed like an eternity I was certain that we would have a repeat of our failed first dive. Suddenly I saw Gordon move to our line of sight and point up toward the coral mounds. Our eyes strained to see what Gordon was pointing at and then a black mass began to slowly and gracefully appear.

Mantas of Yap Part 1 of 3 - First Dive

Gordon pointed to a spot and raised both palms and patted the water in a downward motion. This was my signal that this was my spot and that I was to lie down on the bottom. Lying prone at 76 feet in the middle of Miil Channel at Manta Ridge I felt more like a hunter waiting for prey to amble into our lethal trap than a scuba diver.

Looking to my right Mary was intently willing her eyes to see beyond what was humanly possible. Looking behind me Gordon was hovering with his fin tips barely touching the sand. Giving me the okay sign he pointed two fingers to his eyes and then swept a pointed finger in the direction of the current.

Twilight in the Islands

Twilight is a most enchanting time in the islands; the briefest of moments between the last breath of light and birth pains of darkness. A magical moment where primal urge drives one to waters edge, eyes, and hearts intensely fixated on the yellow orb, as if the mystery has yet to be solved. Reverent silence ensues as shadows flirt with fading light; a final flash signals defeat as the smoldering flame majestically merges with the sea. Darkness is born and night embraces the island.

Web Burrfish - Bizarre But Cool

On top of a sandy ledge near Saba we found this Web Burrfish willing to pose for us.  To describe this fish you would have to use the word bizarre. The piercing iridescent eyes, bright yellow spines with reticulated pattern on it's back and sides make this boxy fish one of my favorite bizarre fish.  And I think you would agree, he is a really cool looking fish!

Students Learn About the Ocean Floor

Through Mary and I have had the pleasure to support many projects in our public schools that help to educate children about the oceans of the world.  In partnership with other Ocean bloggers and the Oceans in the Classroom Initiative we have fully funded science projects from ocean floor spreading in Arkansas to invertebrate aquariums in Texas and breaking science news in Michigan.  Kids are learning science of the ocean and we love receiving letters and photos from the children.  Below is an update from Mrs. D's 6th grade class in Arkansas and photos of the children working with their sea floor spreading toolkit.

Dream Maker Octopus

Sama pointed to a cluster of rock at about 60 feet and when I circled around to where he was pointing all I saw was a swarm of wrasses. Looking over at Sama I hunched my shoulders and he pointed again at the spot directly in front of me. That is when I saw it, the outline of the octopus pressed against the rock.

Mary and I were diving from Wananavu, Fiji, at a site called Dream Maker at Thakau Vatu Latha or Sail Rock Reef. Comprised of five large coral heads, with caves and swim-throughs, the site is filled with soft corals called dendronepthia (carnation coral) in bright colors of yellow, purple and pink. On the edges of the site schools of snapper and sharks can be seen swimming against the current.

Peleliu Corner - Adrenaline Rush of Reef Hook Diving

Peleliu Corner is where Peleliu Expressway and Peleliu Cut merge and the ocean currents converge into the most extreme ripping current you will encounter as a diver. There is a reason they call part of this dive Expressway and that is because if you cannot hook in you are most definitely taking an expressway out to open ocean. U.S. Coast Guard approved transponders and safety sausage were required on this dive for good reason.

We had descended along Peleliu Wall down to about 104 feet. Our plan was to follow the wall for part of the dive slowly ascending to the top of the reef. Once we were given the signal by the dive guide we were to pop over the top of the wall as a group and hook in. When it was time to end the dive the dive guide would give us another signal and then, as a group, we would unhook and sail down the plateau out to open ocean where our boat would be waiting.

Upsidedown Jelly

Did you hear the story about the winner of a competition for what was billed the "best job in the world". Ben Southall was stung by a deadly jellyfish, called an irukandji, while getting off a jetski at Hamilton Island in Whitsundays. The bloke beat out 34,000 other people to get this dream job and almost dies from the sting of a jellyfish no bigger than your fingernail. As they say in Australia, no worries, he made out okay and I am sure he is getting his share of shouts at the pub these days.

When you think about jellyfish I bet you picture in your mind a deadly killing machine such as the lethal box jellyfish, Portuguese Man-of-War or the feared irukandji, but you probably never think about the benign upsidedown jellyfish as pictured in the black and white photo above.

Down Draft at Villa Blanca Wall

Villa Blanca Wall is a sloping wall just offshore Cozumel with a ripping current. Before Hurricane Wilma, in 2005, it was peppered with huge sponges and gorgonians. Wilma pretty much wiped these out and covered everything with white sand. This is still a great dive and the changes to the reef don’t seem to have reduced the number of fish and critters, quite the opposite, for some reason there seem to be more.

Mary and I have been diving Cozumel for years and have both fond and frightful memories of Villa Blanca Wall. My most memorable dive there was with a young dive guide that, for some idiotic reason, decided to go against the current. Mind you Cozumel diving is pretty much all drift diving and to go against any strong current, much less one at Villa Blanca Wall, is insane.

Bluespotted Cornetfish

Ascending to the top of the reef, at Alice in Wonderland, Curacao,  I noticed out of the corner of my mask blue spots.  Staying perfectly still were two bluespotted cornetfish just to my left.  I had heard about the bluespotted cornetfish schooling but had never seen more than one at a time so I approached them very slowly expecting them to bolt at any second.  To my amazement they both stayed long enough for me to get some video and a couple of shots.

What really strikes you about the bluespotted cornetfish is how oddly shaped they are.  With a long thin body, bright blue spots and blue stripes and a very long tail that looks like the business end of a foil they definitely are odd-shaped swimmers of the sea.

Star Puffer

Rounding a coral mound on a dive site called Golden Crown in Viti Levu Fiji we spotted a large fish just sitting on the bottom.  We approached it very slowly and got real close but it lay perfectly still, not moving anything not even its eyes.  I was thinking it must be dead or hurt but as I moved closer I noticed the eyes swivel slowly as it followed Mary's movement.  I could not identify the fish so took a series of shots and forgot about the encounter until we got home. 

We discovered later that it was a Star Puffer and it likes to rest on the bottom all day and eat at night.

Waitatavi Bay, Fiji - Surface Interval at the End of the World

Across the Somosomo Straits from Taveuni is the remote beach of FijiFiji at Waitatavi Bay on the island of Vanua Levu. If you dive the famous and spectacular Rainbow Reef you will most likely make a surface interval at this remote paradise. A crescent shaped white sand beach surrounded by palm trees, you could not imagine a more beautiful place to off gas after diving Purple Wall or The Zoo.

Close your eyes and you hear the gentle whisper of waves on the soft sand, the far away melody of tropical birds and gentle rustle of palm fronds. Open your eyes and the sparkling clear water reveals the shallow pristine coral that jumps out at you in a rainbow of colors like jewels under glass. Look over the Straits back toward Taveuni and you see the beautiful mountains of the Garden Island with fluffy cotton white clouds adorning the peaks. Wade in the warm water and clouds of brave little bream dance around you gently pecking at your legs. Take a walk on the sandy white beach and you feel like you have truly arrived at the end of the world.

Now That's Amore! - Octopus Style

Debris of shells and coral at the opening of an old tank was our first clue that an octopus lair was inside.  No telling how many divers had finned right over the tank without spotting the octopus.  Talk about hiding in plain site, she could not have chosen a busier place to set up her nursery, right next to the pier steps where dozens of divers entered and existed each day.  Yet none of the other divers mentioned having seen her and we kept her secret to ourselves.  On each shore dive we would stop to say hello on our way out and upon our return we would peek in to say goodbye.  Of course the octopus could have cared less but it was a fun ritual anyway.