Monday, May 7, 2012

St. John (Day 4)

Back to Salt Pond Bay! Salt Pond Bay is a 45 minute drive from Andante. We have to drive all around the perimeter of the island and through Coral Bay to get there, even though it's closer to drive east. Problem is there is no road east through the National Park!

The bay was a hot and intensely sunny as always, but the snorkeling has never failed to disappoint. I saw two reef squid but, unlike prior years, they were not over the sea grass but near the coral. This made them easier to spot and look at. Each was about 8-12 inches long with big black eyes and hovered in the water fluttering their lateral fins. This year, I decided to dive so I could get real close to them, and they immediately flashed into a white color and backed away slightly. As I rose to the surface, they jetted away.  I always get excited when I see reef squid because they are cephalopods, and I'm fascinated by the entire group of animals.

A first: I saw a spotted eel. He was snaking around the bottom in about six feet of water, looking for a hole to curl up in for the day. Looked a bit like this guy pictured, only bright yellow all over, especially on his head. He was probably about two feet long or so. Not the biggest eel ever, but I can check that off the sighting list!

As I swam into the middle of the bay where the boats are docked, I was looking for big barracuda that usually hang around near the boats, but there weren't any out there. I did see a small sting ray and three sea turtles munching on the grass and rising to the surface for air. They didn't seem at all bothered by my presence.  There was also a large surgeon fish parked near the coral, with a tiny black and neon yellow 'angelfish' moving around him, probably nipping algae or parasites off of him for a meal.

photo by Jerry Kane
Another thing that often happens in the ocean that I like is you get a little fish or two (not even an inch long) that swims near you for protection. Sometimes, they can be very distracting as they will swim right in front of your mask, making you look cross-eyed at them. Annoying, I guess, but kind of cute too. Speaking of small fish, naturally there were tons of colorful ones to see, but I saw a whole lot of bluehead wrasses, chasing fish away (some were fish much larger than themselves), so I imagine it was some kind of territorial thing. They are really colorful and I always like seeing them.

Another familiar but always welcome sight are schools of fish. This time it was a big school - maybe 50 or so blue tang. For you cartoon people, that would be Dory from Finding Nemo. After snorkeling during the morning and early afternoon, we drove home and - of course - vegged by the pool and tanned. Then Jim cooked us a nice steak dinner! You can click the pic below to get a load of the fantastic setting.

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