Monday, October 4, 2010

Snorkeling Panama City Beach

During our vacation in Panama City Beach we went snorkeling and saw a bunch of amazing stuff, some of which I have not experienced ever!

One of the first things we saw were several kinds of jellyfish. A cannonball jelly that was midway between the size of a softball and a basketball. A sea nettle with long white tentacles draping out behind it, probably pretty nasty stings on them too.  The most beautiful however was what is pictured here (thanks to whoever snapped this and posted on the web - click to make it bigger). I've never seen a jellyfish with bioluminescence like this. There were a couple just floating around with every color of the rainbow flowing through these veins of color like fiber optics.

Of course, there were also plenty of the usual colorful reef fish. The largest fish I saw was a critter that was like an angelfish but had less dramatic fins. It looked a little bit like this guy pictured here (click to make it larger). He was easily a foot and a half long and tall, with dark green and bluish coloring (I think). He had a bunch of little fish hanging around him as he plucked algae off the rocks, and he seemed completely unperturbed by me being so close to him. Also got to see some small stingrays in the shallows.

The most amazing part was that there were these huge schools of bait fish swimming in about eight feet of water.  I was swam amid them and then they just were all around me! Like a hurricane of fish, and I was in the eye.  They were about two or three inches long, transparent, and each had a neon blue strip inside of them. Sorry, but I couldn't find a pic of them on the web to post here.

Anyway, there were literally thousands of these little fish! They were so thick and the school was so big that I couldn't see the seafloor beneath me, nor could I see through them in any direction. As long as I floated and didn't kick the surface of the water, we just swam along together.  It was like I was part of the school! Amazing!

Of course my mischievous side took over and I let my fins kick at the surface to create a disturbance as I darted forward into the thick of them.  They immediately begun swirling around me like a real hurricane but of fish not winds.  They also started jumping, and I could feel them skipping across my back and legs as they darted around me to escape. Weirdest of all, As I swam forward and kept near the surface I could see that some were apparently leaping out of the water. Because ahead of me I could see fish dropping into the water as if it were raining neon blue fish.

I so LOVE the ocean!

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