This colorful parrotfish living amongst the reef in Belize, flashed me a giant smile, showing me some bright white teeth. They use these teeth to scrape algae off corals and rocks, thus preventing algae overgrowth in the reef. This harsh treatment on their teeth as they eat means that they grow continuously throughout their life. I must say that it is a totally different felling getting a toothy smile from a parrotfish compared to a toothy grin from a shark!
A gorgeous school of Blue Tang fish swimming through the corals around South Water Caye island in Belize. These fish swim across you in undulating waves, and it’s very soothing and relaxing to watch them. They mostly swim in a large school of fish, moving through the water as if they are a single large organism, all connected and communicating. They seem so peaceful, as if no predators exist in the world, and for those moments I wish that could be true for us all.
Would you even know you were looking at one of the worlds most venomous fish? Anyone would be grumpy with a face like this one. This is a stonefish and as you can imagine is easily stepped on by people due to the fact that it is not easily distinguished from its surroundings. The venom from this fish is extremely painful and can be lethal, so of course (like most venomous things) it lives in waters around Australia. If you are unfortunate enough to be stung by this fish, heat treatment of the site can be used to destroy the venom. For more severe cases antivenom is administered. The moral of this story is that when snorkeling do not pick up or touch anything….. even something as harmless looking as a stone can kill you.
For other snorkeling posts please click here.
This week I wanted to continue the theme of spotted sea creatures. This is a spotted eagle ray, also seen while snorkeling off the beach in Jamaica. They live in tropical waters and have one of the longest tails compared to other sting rays. Unlike most other fish they give birth to live baby sting rays. I must apologize for the bad photography, this ray did not make things easy for me at all. He instantly knew the second I had spotted him (pun intended) and took off so fast that I had to channel my inner Olympic swimmer to get any photo at all! These beautiful underwater creatures are named eagles for a reason, they truly do appear as though they are flying underwater with no resistance at all…. the absolute opposite of my clumsy thrashing and getting nowhere at all.
This beautiful Squirrelfish was spotted (with quite a few others) whilst recently snorkeling in Jamaica. These fish chose a home amongst the corals and rock crevices which they become very territorial about. They get incredibly defensive when someone infringes upon their space and will issue warnings by grunting and making other high pitched noises (which I obviously cannot hear underwater). For those of us who are hard of hearing, this fish also threateningly raised the spines along its back to let me know that I got too close. Once it realised I was a friend it went back to happily swimming laps around the coral and posing for some more friendly photos too. Because this fish stays close to its territory all the time it meant that I could find the exact same fish in the same location the next day. Click here for other underwater posts.
This past trip to Mexico we made sure we went when the whale sharks are known to migrate to the warmer waters of the Mexican-Caribbean Sea, usually mid May to September. This photograph was taken by our guide from Ocean Tours, of my husband next to one of these gentle and giant whale sharks. Unfortunately I didn’t make it into many photos because every time I jumped into the water, I was immediately transfixed by the majestic creature in front of me, that I would forget to channel my inner Olympic swimmer to keep up with them! The bus-sized whale sharks were slowly cruising through the water, sucking up plankton without a care in sight, and even with their slow motions easily outswam us. I really enjoyed going on this tour because it felt like Mexican authorities really care about these mysterious beauties. There are many rules and regulations in place to make sure that people are not infringing on the whale sharks natural behaviors, feeding and migratory habits. They limit the season length, the number of boats, and allow only two people with a guide in the water with the shark at any time. They really want to make this a sustainable attraction, and I feel that many countries could use this as a great example that nature should be prioritized over fast monetary gain. Although I am not in any way a comfortable boat person, and after a while was “feeding the fishes” rather than swimming with them, I would recommend this fantastic experience to anyone.
Please click here to see my other underwater posts.
So these little fish are more amazing than I ever knew. They live amongst anemone tentacles protected by a layer of mucous that covers their body. This symbiotic relationship means that clownfish are protected from predators, and get left over scraps of food from the anemone. In exchange the clownfish drive off intruders and keep the anemone clean of parasites. Interestingly all clownfish are born male, but the largest clownfish in a group is female. If she dies, her mate increases in size and transforms into a female and subsequently mates with the next largest male. It is thought that because adult clownfish rarely stray from their homes, this evolutionary trait ensures that there is always a female and a male in the small group.
For my other post on clownfish Click here.
Watching clownfish swimming amongst a brightly colored anemone has always been a magical moment of any snorkeling trip for me. This photo actually has three of them, with the two smaller ones safely hiding amongst the stinging tentacles of their home, whilst the leader boldly sizes me up. Its very cute to watch, and always brings a big smile to my face (which usually means my mask fills with water and I momentarily drown). Common clownfish are seen in warmer tropical waters ranging from eastern Indian Ocean to Southeast Asia. The fish in this photo call the waters around Malaysia their home. They are such a beautiful sight to see, that I get so very disappointed and angry to hear that their numbers are decreasing due to the demand of the pet trade. I can imagine for some, that it might seem nice to watch them swimming in a tank in your home, but isn’t it so much more exciting to spot them happily swimming in their home in the ocean?
I love snorkeling. Mostly because the ocean floor feels like a completely foreign world, with so many interesting landscapes and weird creatures to explore. Every reef I’ve been to is quite different and unique in its corals and wildlife. Even the same reef can look different every time you look at it, with new creatures every day. Sometimes I feel as though the creatures are watching me as much as I am watching them, looking at me like I’m out of place. Large schools of fish will cluster around you, or swim past you like a large shimmering wall, wondering what you are. They give you just enough space, so that you could not catch them if you are a predator. Smaller fish, which live in soft corals and anemones are very defensive about their little garden. They will face you, and even get a bit aggressive if you get too close. I give them plenty of space in the hope that they know I am just there to watch. Its a truly fascinating world, and I hope to see much more of it in future explorations.