Hey, you! Would you like to be my buddy for this next scuba dive? You would? Oh, I’m so glad to hear that! Diving with the Sail Caribbean Divers is sort of like going on a safari through the African Savannah – you never know what amazing creatures and interactions you may see! Get your gear and let’s get on that dive boat! (Note: Even if you aren’t already certified, we can still be buddies as you earn your PADI Open Water Certification by signing up for our teen scuba training!)
Once we find the anchor chain we signal to each other to descend and suddenly our world is filled with dancing bubbles, brilliant streams of light, and the serene blue-ness of the clear Caribbean waters. The reef is filled with so much color and life, and the first thing our eyes focus on is a huge school of Blue Tang (Dory’s Atlantic cousins)! They move as one cohesive unit with such grace and fluidity, and you notice that some of them have yellow tail fins. This is cool because it means they are the “teens” in the group – Blue Tang are completely yellow when they are juveniles!
We move closer to the reef to see if we can find any tiny yellow tangs, but instead notice a gorgeous pair of French Angelfish picking at the bryozoans and tunicates encrusting the reef. These fish are usually about 1 foot long, but can be up to 18 inches! French angelfish pair off and form life-long monogamous breeding relationships (which is pretty unusual in the fish world).
While gazing at the beautiful couple, we get the sense that something is watching us… as we turn around we are excited to see a large Spotted Eagle Ray swimming (vid) near the surface obviously on its way to the seagrass bed where it will settle to forage for crustaceans. Sometimes these rays will get acrobatic and leap out of the water (vid) dolphin-style, cartwheeling through the air! They are capable of stinging (like all stingrays), but they are shy and docile unless provoked by rude divers or hungry predators.
Wow, that was cool! But there is still so much to see on the reef – like that gorgeous Parrotfish over there munching on the coral! Eww… it just pooped out a bunch of stuff that looked like sand – can you believe we just saw that? Actually, each year an adult parrotfish poops about 1 ton (2,000 lbs) of crushed coral which it eats in order to get the coral polyps and algae inside! So, that beach you were sitting on yesterday – yep.. mostly undigested fish poop (vid) 🙂
As we swim down to take a closer look at the brain coral the parrot fish was eating, we see a row of colorful little “trees” living on the surface of the coral. Oops! We must have been too close because we startled them all! The little Christmas Tree Worms sucked abruptly into their tubes (vid) (which are bored down into the coral skeleton) – but if we wait just a minute or two, they will open their tiny doors and creep back out. The “trees” are really just the structures used to collect plankton for food.
Suddenly you tap me on the shoulder and signal with urgency toward a crevice in the rock just to my left – I wonder what you saw in there..?
The greatest challenge during the program was staying entertained during the quarantine period. Not being able to leave your boat and not having a phone, which was a crutch against boredom, it was difficult at first to stay entertained.