Archives: May 2009 - May 2010

Juvenile Barracuda - More Photos

My mom wanted me to post a few more barracuda photos so here they are:

The 'Cuda is trying to swallow the baby Mojarra here. The Barracuda is so small that you can see the victim's eye through its mouth.


A view from underneath: Again the Mojarra's eye is visible through the 'cuda's mouth. The Barracuda's pink gills are also visible from this angle.


Posted June 8, 2010

Juvenile Barracuda

My mom and I took a trip out to Bottom Harbour with our snorkel gear and camera. Bottom Habour always seems to have something good so I wasn't too surprised to find a rare four-legged Bahama Starfish before putting on my mask. Not long after I found a tiny 1 inch juvenile Great Barracuda. I had only shot barracuda this size once before so I was very excited


This barracuda didn't seem to mind my company so I followed him around for almost an hour. At one point the 'cuda and I came upon a school of baby mojarra (sand fish). The little 'cuda slowly maneuvered itself near the school and prepared to pounce. I waited...waited...and waited until finally a tiny mojarra swam too close. In less than a second the 'cuda nabbed it and swam to the surface - as if to show off his catch - where I could get photos. He swallowed the mojarra quickly, but luckily I was able to get a couple shots before. I was pretty happy with this one:


Posted May 24, 2010

Sea Urchins

This nuisance of a sea animal can be found almost everywhere (though they seem to be most common in places I am likely to step). Urchins spend almost their entire life clinging to the sea floor with long tube like feet. The mouth is placed on their underside and is ideal for feeding on algae, which makes up the bulk of its diet. Surprisingly these menaces can sometimes be considered beneficial:

The roe of urchins, although not eaten in the Bahamas, is considered a delicacy in the Caribbean and many other parts of the world. Sea Urchins also provide homes for many of our juvenile and small fishes.

The urchin spines of this specie can be particularly painful: Their spines are thin and very brittle, easily breaking off in the skin. A juvenile damselfish provided a bright background for this photo.


These Nineline Gobies never venture far from the protective spines of their Rock Boring Urchins. Photo taken at the Queen's Baths.


The Red Clingfish is another beautiful specie that lives under urchins. Also from the Queens Baths.


Posted May 17, 2010

Exumas II

Kirk and Jake took us on another trip to the Exumas. We had heard a few reports of people catching Mahi in the Exuma Sound so we decided to try our luck out there. Before heading out deep though, we donned our snorkel gear and hopped in at the Highbourne Cay Marina. There was a pack of over 20 Nurse Sharks there that we wanted to swim with. The water where we jumped in was a little too murky for photos, but Jake and I headed out to some deeper, clearer water and found a couple sleeping sharks.


The deep sea fishing was a bit disappointing, but the pod of Pilot Whales we found made up for it. This Pilot Whale approached us and swam parallel to the boat for a long ways. After checking us out he dove down deep, but behind it we saw two more Pilot Whales; they were heading right for us! Everyone got their masks and fins and quietly slipped into the water. Jake and my dad went ahead and only got about 20 feet away before they shouted. I thought they saw the whales so I rushed out and was very surprised to see a big Oceanic Whitetip heading right for us.

Photo courtesy of Kirk Aulin:


The shark rushed in very aggressively and turned right toward Jake and my Dad. We immediately rushed towards the boat and clambered aboard at record speeds. Just after we left the water a second smaller Oceanic Whitetip showed up. It was a pretty cool experience, but we definitely won't jump in for Pilot Whales again.

 This is a screen shot from a short video I took as we raced back to the boat. That is Jake's fin on the right; we were swimming on our back and watching the shark all the way back to the boat. I would estimate the shark to be around 8 feet.


Posted April 27, 2010

Curlytail Lizard

My mom pointed out this tame Curlytail Lizard to me a few days ago. He was hanging around our back porch so I grabbed my camera, got down on my belly and slowly inched my way towards him. After a while he became tame enough for me to get some good photos.

Curlytails are much more common on Eleuthera's Atlantic coasts, but a fair amount can be found in certain areas on the Caribbean side. Unfortunately Hurricane Francis wiped out most of the Curtail's habitat around Gaulding Cay. I was very surprised to see this one around our house; I hope he stays around.


Posted April 24, 2010

Worm Snake

While Jake and I were goofing around outside we stumbled onto a couple of Worm Snakes. Worm Snakes are the smallest and probably rarest Bahamian snake. They resemble earthworms more than a snakes and, like worms, they spend most of their lives wriggling through the dirt. They seem to have some sort of eyes (looks more like a magic marker spot), but judging by their erratic movements both Kirk and I think they are blind. Their diet consist mainly of ants and termites; it's too bad these snakes aren't more common.

Here's a photo of one of the Worm Snakes in my hand:


Posted April 20, 2010

This is a photo from the trip to Current Cut in the Liberty Clipper. We anchored just north of the cut and ran the dinghy over to snorkel it.


The water was murky and the current tame, but the school of Eagle Rays seemed to be enjoying themselves. Unfortunately the Eagle Rays hung out the bottom so not many people saw them. On one of my dives I almost ran into an Eagle Ray by not watching where I was drifting. It's a good thing they are so agile as there was no way I had enough time to get out of the way.

Many of the rays were unusually large. This one has a wingspan around 6 feet!


Posted April 17, 2010

Liberty Clipper II

Here's a great shot of Luke holding up Liberty Clipper's stern. Luke, a deckhand, was the youngest crew member aboard and was the snorkeling guide. This photo was taken at Gaulding Cay in about 10 feet of water. The 8 foot draft of the Liberty Clipper makes navigating very difficult in the shallow Bahamas.

Indeed, we barely made it over the 8 foot deep sand bars of Current Cut. Luke and I took the inflatable dinghy ahead to scout out the deepest channel and we had a couple crew members watching for shallow spots from the top of the mast. We made it through fine, but I'm sure we scraped the bottom a few times.

Look at the size of the rudder and prop!             


Posted April 12, 2010

The Exumas

Our friends took us on a boat trip to the Northern Exumas recently. It was my first time there so I was really excited. Our first stop was at Leaf Cay to see the Iguanas. The subspecie we saw were the Allen Cay Iguanas which are endemic to just a few islands in the Exumas. The iguanas spend all day sunning and eating on the beach and head inland to sleep in burrows at night. We also did some diving, but the current was a bit too strong for photos.

With some lettuce in one hand and my camera in the other I was able to get some cool photos. This was one of the bigger lizards:


A large Iguana sunning on the ironshore:


The animals on Leaf Cay were incredibly tame. I got a better Bananaquit photo in five minutes there than I've gotten in nine years on Eleuthera. Bananaquit on a Silver Buttonwood:


Even the Curly-tail Lizards posed for photos!


Posted April 7, 2009

African Pompano II

Kirk, Jake and I just had a great day fishing and diving. We started out deep-sea fishing north of Spanish Wells. Jake caught a nice Mahi, but the trolling was slow so we buzzed over to the Egg Island Wreck for some spearfishing.
     We didn't have to wait long before a school of African Pompano swam by. We followed them for a while but they weren't letting us get closer than 15 feet. Finally I got fed up and took a long shot anyway. My spear went through its back and into the stomach cavity, not a great shot, but I was surprised I hit it at all. We chased it down until it tired enough for Jake to put another spear in it. After landing the first one Jake and I headed back to the wreck hoping for another Pompano. I got lucky and ended up shooting two more, both of which also needed a second spear to be subdued. Kirk stoned the second one fairly quickly, but Jake and I had to chase the last one around for about 20 minutes.
     Kirk managed to get a nice 10 pound Nassau Grouper in this time. With all the wounded fish in the water we were amazed that we saw no sharks, this wreck usually has them even before you shoot anything. To top off an amazing day a couple enormous Amberjack made some very close passes just before we left.

Here's my three African Pompano (Alectis ciliaris). They weighed in at 25, 23 and 21 pounds. I gave most of my Pompano away, but I kept a good bit as they are one my favorite food fishes.


Posted April 5, 2010

I just got back from a week of cruising on the Liberty Clipper. I was invited onboard after they saw the ship's photo I posted. We sailed from Nassau directly to Egg Island then headed south through the Current Cut to spend a couple nights around Gregory Town. After a bit of exploring we headed back to Rose Island and finally Nassau. The trip was great and the snorkeling was pretty cool.

I'm having some trouble loading my photos now so I'm just posting this one of a tiny Hawksbill we saw out at the Egg Island Wreck. I'll upload some more later.


Posted March 31, 2010

This photo shows a few Blackbar Soldierfish out at a wreck off Current. I found them under a ledge in about 30 feet of water. Luckily they were tame enough that I could take several photos before running out of breath. Like their relatives, the common Squirrelfish, Soldierfish are nocturnal and spend the day resting in dark places. I thought the Canon G9 did a great job of lighting the scene up. I just wish the background were better.


Posted March 13, 2010

The Cow and Bull are two giant boulders perched up near the edge of an Atlantic cliff. This well-known landmark is just south of the Glass Window Bridge. No one is sure how they got there, but one theory suggests that a giant wave launched them up from the ocean. There are several of these boulders in our area. One of them is the Twin Sisters rock which lies in about 5 feet of water on the Caribbean side.

A much less exciting idea proposes that the land around these boulders has been eroded. Though, to me, it seems odd that many of them would have been undercut so thoroughly.

Whatever the cause, these rocks are pretty cool. The Cow (left) and Bull:


Posted March 11, 2009

Sorry about the lack of posts lately. I had a few problems with my server, but everything is sorted out now.

The water has been cold and murky so I'm posting a photo I got a while ago out at Bottom Harbour. As usual the water there wasn't very clear, but the bluish green color makes a cool background on the macro shots.

This is an intermediate French Angelfish. This was a pretty one so I spent about 30 minutes shooting it. It was very tame, but otherwise uncooperative; it kept approaching the camera from weird angles. I wasn't happy with any of my shots, but at least you can see its beautiful yellow bars in this one.


Posted March 1, 2010

Jake and I found this shy Honeycomb Cowfish out at Muttonfish Point. Cowfish are masters of color change, though judging by their bright colors and bold patterns they don't use this expertise for camouflage. This specie is usually gold while calm and blue when alarmed. This one was particularly bright so I'm glad I got a picture before it jetted off.

          A frightened Honeycomb Cowfish, Acanthostracion polygonius, darting away:


Posted February 15, 2010

A giant schooner, The Liberty Clipper, has been mooring out front lately. After a quick search  we found the website of this massive 125 foot sailboat; apparently it's a cruise-ship that tours a few Bahama Islands every winter. It was built as a replica of an 18th century clipper.

                                  Here's a neat view of the ship from our yard:


Posted February 2, 2010

While we were driving down the Queens Highway I noticed a large bird sitting on a telephone pole. We turned around to investigate and saw it was a Barn Owl! It's only the fourth one I have seen in Eleuthera so I am glad I had my camera ready. Most of the Barn Owls here live in small caves in the sides of cliffs. Kirk and I explored one of these once (while the owl was out) and found thousands of rat skeletons.

A giant Barn owl specie (Tyto pollens) that stood three feet tall and inhabited the Bahama Islands is unfortunately extinct. This enormous, flightless bird was probably the basis for the legend of the Chickcharnie. The Chickcharnie was said to be a giant three toed, mischievous creature with glowing red eyes.


Posted January 26, 2010

My dad and I went diving at a reef near James Cistern a couple days ago. As soon as I entered the water I was swarmed by a school of Palometa. I got some decent photos with my macro lens, but I wish I would have had a wide angle. Palometa schools are fun to snorkel with, the whole school often circles around you and the individual jack make very close passes.

You can find Palometa at surfy Atlantic beaches, such as Surfer's Beach. They are rarely found more than 40 feet from shore. This school had around 100 fish:


Posted January 23, 2010

This is an older picture from last November that I had forgotten to post.

Jake, Kirk and I went out diving at Rhino Rock. It was a spear-fishing trip, but I decided to take the camera. Jake soon started cleaning the place out of Lionfish and he decided to try to feed one to a Sun Anemone. To our surprise the Sun Anemone slowly sucked the Lionfish in. We were excited to finally find something to eat our dead Lionfish; we can't even get Barracuda to touch them. The silversides in the foreground (on the right) are one of the Lionfish's favorite foods.


Posted January 16, 2010

Though Ghost crab holes are common on our beach, I don't often encounter the crabs themselves. Sometimes at night you can find them scurrying to and from the water, but other than that I rarely see them.

So I was surprised when I found this crab out in the middle of a sunny day. After taking several shots I sat and watched it for a while. It sat half submerged in the waves for a while, presumably moistening its gills. I read that they go down to the sea in the evenings to soak their gills. Maybe this one decided to get a drink earlier.


Posted January 16, 2010

Calm days are rare this time of year at the Queens Baths, but the fish are more plentiful so I make an effort to go. The wind and swell cooperated a few days ago and I was able to get in a long dive. I got a good shot of a Pearl Blenny and one of a Redlip Blenny.

Pearl Blennies are one of the more common and photogenic blennies in the tide-pools. They are usually shy, but occasionally I find one that holds still long enough for a photo.

Once while diving in a small tide-pool I felt something biting me over and over. I figured it must be a fish but I couldn't see anything so I ignored it. Near the end of the dive I noticed a small suspicious looking Pearl Blenny streak away from my leg. I eyed it carefully for the next few minutes and watched it dart out into the open water to bite my leg again. It was useless trying to swat the lightning-quick fish so I ended up leaving the water. Needless to say I haven't dove in that tide-pool since. Another blenny, the Molly Miller, often crowds around my hand to take turns biting at my fingers. These blennies are worse than the sharks at Current; it's a good that most blennies are under 5 inches.

A friendly Pearl Blenny:


This Redlip Blenny is about 5 inches long and is one of the larger inhabitants of the tide-pool. The frilly lip is an interesting characteristic of the specie.


Posted January 12, 2009

We have been stuck inside due to strong north winds this past week so I'm posting pictures from a while ago. The first is of a small Caribbean Reef Shark that lives out at Current. It's only about 4 feet long so its not much of a threat. We identify it by the small split in the tail.

  It's frustrating to photograph these sharks; they are always too close until the camera comes out.


Spotted Eagle rays feed by using their nose as a shovel; they typically dig for clams or crustaceans. Notice how long the tail is! I couldn't fit the whole ray into the frame. Eagle rays usually have 4 or 5 barbs which are placed at the base of the tail.


Fortunately Spotted Eagle rays rarely bury in the sand so you are not likely to step on one.     The barbs of an Eagle ray are larger than the single barb of the Southern Stingray.


Posted January 6, 2010

A current line has been running along the shoreline lately and is bringing in tons of jellyfish and seaweed. Hidden in Sargasso seaweed we found Filefish, Seahorses and juvenile ballyhoo.

This unidentified Filefish specie is camouflaged to match the Sargasso :


The juvenile ballyhoo came in an amazing variety of colors. Unfortunately these juveniles were already as shy as the adults and scurried away before I could get a good shot. These three were hovering obliquely near the surface; possibly imitating floating sea grass.


Posted December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas! Here are a few Christmas photos from the Bahamas:         

      I spent forever trying to photograph this intermediate phase Queen Angelfish. This was my only good photo.


Christmas Tree Worm: These worms live in tubes inside coral. The two feathery "trees" are the antennae of the worm. It uses these to filter food and oxygen from the water. When disturbed the worm quickly pulls its antennae inside the tube; after a moment the worm will slowly reappear.


                          Sea Urchin snowmen enjoying the beach:


Posted December 23, 2009

Blue Tang start out on the reef as tiny yellow fish. As they mature the blue color of the adults slowly takes over. The last area to change is the tail; it's not rare to find a blue bodied Tang with a bright yellow tail. The size that the color change takes place varies with each fish. Sometimes you will find an all blue adult that is smaller than a yellow juvenile. This large juvenile was swimming around a colony of Branching Fire Coral. I took several shots and this one turned out the best.


Posted December 13, 2009

These aren't great photos, but I wanted to post about Hawksbills. I found this turtle in about 20 feet of water out at Current. I dove down with the camera and waited for the turtle to pass by. The turtle turned directly toward me and swam within a foot of my camera. I was so surprised that I had forgotten to take pictures until the turtle was on top of me. Desperately I tried to snap a picture but I accidentally turned my camera off. By the time I was ready again the turtle was swimming off.

The narrow pointed beak is an easy way to identify the Hawksbill. They are also the only sea turtle with overlapping plates on their carapace:


We usually see Hawksbills in areas with currents and reefs while we tend to find Green Turtles in calm, shallow bays.


Posted December 5, 2009

I took another trip to the Queen's Baths yesterday. The tide-pools weren't as busy as usual, but I was happy to find two giant Hairy Blennies. They are the largest blenny found in the Caribbean; the two I saw were around 7 inches.

                                        A clear view of the 'hair' (cirri) on its head:


These giant carnivores must terrorize the other inhabitants (whose body length averages around the length of this blenny's tail).


Posted December 2, 2009

We dove out at Current recently and found a school of African Pompano. They are great food fish, but they were too big to spear with Hawaiian slings (Spearguns are illegal in the Bahamas.) Juveniles have long elegant fin rays that trail far behind their body. Larger African Pompano lose these completely. Click here to see a juvenile African Pompano.

We estimated this African Pompano to be about 20 pounds, it's about the average size though we have seen much larger ones. We fished for them but they were picky biters as usual; they seem to bite at random.

              This Pompano passed by very close. I wonder why they have so many scars.


Posted December 1, 2009

My parents and I paddled out past Muttonfish Point to a small partially submerged cave. The entrance to the cave faces west so the sunset illuminated the entire cave. It goes back about 100 feet to a really small dry beach. The front of the cave is always submerged, but it is shallow at low tide. Juvenile grunts, lobsters, and Lemon Stingray are about the only animals that live here.

                 The entrance is under the ledge (the cave opens up once you're inside):


Water drops got on the housing and ruined many of the photos. We are planning to paddle back to get some better pictures. It's much easier to move around at low tide:


                                             Starting our one mile trip back:


Posted November 24, 2009

This Green Turtle is gliding over Lugworm mounds in Bottom Harbour. The Bahamas government has recently banned the harvest of sea turtles, which are used in many traditional Bahamian dishes. Green Turtle are the most common specie, though we also see lots of Hawksbill and Loggerhead Turtles. Young Green Turtles, like the one below, are known to eat small fish. As they grow they switch to a vegetarian diet of Turtle Grass.


Posted November 16, 2009

This is a picture of Muttonfish Point about two weeks ago. We've been having horrible north winds for the past few days. The water is too cold and murky to dive (without a wetsuit) and it's too rough to fish. The wind is supposed to shift to the east in a few days; with this colder water maybe we can catch a few mackerel.

Glassy afternoons like this one are rare:            


Posted November 15, 2009

My mom found this school of Spadefish at a sunken log off the north point of Gaulding Cay.  We counted 28 Spadefish, the most we've ever seen! They are good eating fish, but we decided to leave these small ones alone. My dad took this picture with the Canon G9.


This friendly immature Gray Snapper also resides at the log:


Posted November 11, 2009

I was out off the beach today with my camera and came across these two Caribbean Reef Squid. They hung around me for about twenty minutes while I shot picture after picture of their different postures.

The squid turned a light color when moving and a darker color when stopped.


On my first approach both squid went into a defensive posture by spreading their arms. After a while they became used to me and started to relax.


Very few people know that squids are experts in the Martial Arts:


While hovering over the seafloor this squid assumes the 'elephant posture':


Posted November 9, 2009

This Houndfish has a freshly caught pilchard in its jaws. The pilchard (Herring) was still kicking when I found them. For a long time the Houndfish struggled to swallow its prey and eventually decided it was too big and let the pilchard go. This is one of the first times I've seen a Houndfish with a captured fish so I was really glad to have my camera ready.


Posted November 5, 2009

I found this tiny Barracuda drifting near the surface while diving at Rhino Rock.  This Barracuda is not much more than an inch long, but it's already lightning quick.   After a while he got used to the camera and let me take a few photos. Jake and I were wondering why his belly was so inflated. The brown body bars usually stay until the Barracuda is around a foot.


Posted November 4, 2009

I took this picture at the northern cove of Surfer's Beach. We see Spanish Hogfish at almost every reef on the Atlantic side, but we rarely see them on the Caribbean. These tasty food fish have become so skittish from spear-fishing that I haven't been able to get a picture until I found this fish. I found this tame one in a cave and snapped several pictures of it. This fish here is about 7 inches long, they can grow to about twice this length.

                                      Spanish Hogfish - Bodianus rufus


Posted October 28, 2009

Kirk and I were out in the boat speeding towards a dive spot when we almost hit a giant Barracuda sleeping on the surface. The Gregory Town locals are always happy when we can bring them a Barracuda so we decided to try to shoot it. The Barracuda was wide awake by the time I slipped into the water. Kirk stayed in the boat and corralled the 'Cuda into a small bay where I was able to shoot it in the head.

The Barracuda went berserk! It flew out to sea, jumping over and over with the 6 foot spear sticking out of its head. Kirk counted seven jumps overall. I fell way behind, but Kirk was following the 'Cuda in the boat. Finally I caught up with the exhausted fish and shot a second spear in its head. We weighed the Barracuda back at the house, it was 33 pounds!

                                             33 pound 'Cuda


Posted October 16, 2009

Our internet has been out for the past few weeks while we switched internet service providers. The new internet service is working so I will be posting regularly again.

I took this photo while diving out at Current. We were spear-fishing and had shot a couple of hogfish when this shark swam in. I dove down to see if I could get a picture, but the shark turned and swam off; this barracuda came in at the perfect moment for a picture. We saw at least four sharks while spearing, though since none showed any aggression we decided to continue snorkeling.

A Barracuda threatens me by flaring its gills and baring its teeth while a Caribbean Reef Shark swims off in the background:


Barracuda constantly open and close their mouth to breath, a behavior very different from the threat seen above. Threats like this are rare in solitary Barracuda and are only occasionally seen in schooling fish. The smaller Barracuda (2-3 feet) seem to be much more likely than the large ones to put on a threat display.

Posted October 14, 2009

While I was out snorkeling I found two Bucktooth Parrotfish fighting. I think they might have been fighting over their territories. Fortunately I had the camera ready and I was able to snap a few pictures.



Posted August 26, 2009

My dad and I went snorkeling at Ben Bay yesterday. We were expecting clear, calm water, but it was very murky. Even in the murk we saw plenty of cool fish and took tons of photos. I was really hoping to get a good picture of a Fairy Basslet (Gramma loreto), but so much sediment had been stirred up that the lens didn't know what to focus on - sand or fish.

                          Ben Bay: (Viewed from above with Google Earth.)


The water was much clearer on top of the reef, but there wasn't much to see.

               A small Bar Jack - Carangoides ruber - swimming over the reef.


We saw the first Goldentail Moray (Gymnothorax miliaris) that we have seen here. These morays average around 1 foot in length, which is much smaller than most.

                        I was disappointed that I didn't get a better picture.


Posted August 16, 2009

While we tend to see more juvenile Jacks in the early summer, small schools of juvenile Horse-eye Jack can be found year round. There is usually a group of Horse-eyes in the Queen's Baths tide-pools. I've tried to photograph them many times but have had little success. The jack in the current school are quite tame, but the water was too murky for any great photos. Without the yellow tail it's difficult to identify the juveniles. Their blunt head and giant eye distinguish them from the similar Blue Runner.

               The backscatter almost ruined this photo, but I like it anyway.


Posted August 16, 2009

While I was out snorkeling at the cay I found a juvenile Black Grouper. It was the smallest one I had ever seen. What was really exciting, though, was its bright red markings. I had the camera with me, but after taking a few pictures I realized how difficult it would be. The grouper was way back in a cave and I would need to use the flash to bring out its red color. It took four different snorkels, where I spent the majority of the dive waiting at its cave, to get a decent shot. Most of the time the grouper wasn't even out. I just checked the cave a few days ago, but it seems that the grouper has disappeared. I hope it wasn't eaten.

This Juvenile Black Grouper (Mycteroperca bonaci) was about 2 1/2 inches long.


Posted July 6, 2009

I was in Oregon for the week on a Salmon fishing trip. Our friend, Wes, had invited me to go Salmon fishing in his boat. I had never even seen a salmon so I accepted. Wes lives in northern Oregon and is just over a mile away from the coast. I had never visited that part of the country so just seeing the land and wildlife was interesting too.

We caught plenty of Salmon, mainly Coho (Silver), but a few Chinook (King) too. Fishing for salmon was very different from anything we do here. When salmon fishing you troll very close to the boat and use large sinkers to get your bait down deep.

We fished out in the ocean, usually over 6 miles out! I knew that salmon spent time in the ocean, but I never imagined they would be miles out in deep water. Most of the salmon we caught were around 7-10 pounds. You're allowed to keep 2 salmon per person, per day and they have to be hatchery fish. Which means they have been hatched in a tank and let go into the river. Before the salmon are released they clip off the adipose fin, which is how fisherman tell the difference between hatched fish and the natives.

Two Coho Salmon. These fish were caught the first day and were some of the smallest.


Posted July 28, 2009

Kirk and I went out fishing on the Atlantic a few days ago. We were casting from shore with small yellow jigs and had caught a few small fish, but no keepers. Kirk hooked up to a small Blue Runner (Jack). While Kirk was bringing it in it spit the hook and raced 10 feet over to bite my jig. Just as I was about to bring it up a giant tarpon swooped down on the jack, but didn't take the fish. I kept the Blue Runner in the water waiting for the Tarpon to return.

By the time the Tarpon came back Kirk had hooked up to a massive Ocean Trigger. The Tarpon finally took my Jack and shot off running. It ended up snagging my line on a rock and cutting it. The Tarpon swam back towards us and we could see my small yellow jig in the corner its mouth. We both thought it was over 100 pounds.

Kirk's Triggerfish was done fighting, but needed to be hauled up the cliff. The Trigger was too heavy for our 12 pound test so I tied on another lure to double hook it. I positioned the lure right in the corner of the Triggers mouth and pulled, the hook set for a second and then popped free sending the lure above our heads. On its way down the back hook of the lure snagged Kirks arm and barbed itself. We left then, with no Trigger, Jack, or Tarpon. Kirk had to get the hooked cut out and ended up with four stitches. Kirk has had some bad luck lately, just last week he had to get a fragment of a hook removed from his finger.

Posted July 15th, 2009

I got this picture of a juvenile Nassau Grouper this morning. This one lives at the cay and is around 3 inches long. We started seeing the tiny 1 inch groupers about two months ago. This Nassau Grouper probable settled at the shallow east end of the cay and is now slowly working its way out to deeper water. The grouper is now in a small cave and will have to grow a few more inches before it can join the other grouper. Groupers are one of the slower growing reef fish, sometimes living for over 30 years.


                 The above picture was cropped from this photograph.


Posted July 10, 2009

The relentless west winds are starting to push large rafts of Sargassum seaweed onto the beach. In these mats of seaweed live hundreds of fish, shrimp and crabs, many of them which are perfectly camouflaged. I searched through several clumps of seaweed before I found this Sargassum fish.

Sargassum fish (Histrio histrio) out in the open. The giant fins below its head are used for walking through Sargassum.


Some species of Sargassum spend part of their life on the seafloor. I didn't know if this specie would survive there, but decided to anchor a bit to our small artificial reef. This crab is now one of the residents at Sargasso reef; the Sargassum fish was also meant to reside there, but swam off the explore the reef instead.

Sargasso crab hiding in Sargassum. The crab's extended claw is visible on the left. .


Posted July 10, 2009

Lightning III

I've finally gotten a decent lightning picture. A few nights ago there was a giant wall of clouds moving in from the west. There was lightning everywhere so I never knew to where point my camera. I just barely captured these two bolts and a third struck outside of the frame. The bolt on the right is partially obscured by the cay out front.

For lightning pictures you need to have the camera shutter open for a long time. My current camera's  (Canon G9) maximum shutter time is only 15 seconds and it takes another 15 seconds to write the picture, so I'm only able to capture half the strikes. I have a new camera on its way that will be able to stay open for 30 seconds. I will probably end up taking both out so I can cover more sky.










Posted July 6, 2009

Jake and I were back at the tide-pools today. It was rough and cold, but we decided to go anyway. We ended the dive full of urchin spines, but it was worth it since we saw some cool fish.

This curious looking fish (below) is called a Longhorn blenny, they are quite rare around here. It seems that the most likely place to find them is in rough areas with brain coral and sea urchins. This was the smallest one I have ever seen, it must have been about 3/4 of an inch. We've also been seeing a lot of juvenile French angelfish, many of which are around 1/2 long, though we have no good pictures of those yet.


Posted July 2, 2009

I took this picture a few weeks ago. I was out at night taking pictures of Cuban Tree frogs, when I saw this lizard sleeping on a Silvertop frond. It think it must be a male Brown Anole.


From the other side. I thought it was funny how it dangled it legs off.


Posted July 2, 2009

My mom and I went out looking for something to photograph, with the 25 knot northwest winds it's hard to find anywhere protected. We found a place on the Atlantic side that was fairly calm. I had just taken my camera out when I saw an Ocean Triggerfish cruising along the shore. I didn't have my snorkeling gear ready so I held my camera underwater and aimed as best I could.

 Triggerfish are commonly caught while fishing, often on small crabs or squid. They taste delicious, but their tough skin makes them a chore to filet. Most of their diet is made up of sea urchins and other crustaceans. Ocean Triggers are reported to be pelagic, though many that we see are on very shallow reefs.

The fish on the right is a Sergeant Major and the round rocks in the background are ballast stones from old sailing ships.


Posted June 25, 2009

Many species of terns nest here during spring and summer. The small Least terns are probably the most common. One of their nesting sites is at Whale Point, which is just a few miles north of our house. They nest on the iron-shore or in the sand, typically laying one or two eggs. Being on the ground, the young terns would seem an easy meal for most predators, however, the parents dive and attack any intruders and the young birds are nearly impossible to find due to their excellent camouflage.

                                   A Least tern turns away after an attack dive:


Posted June 25, 2009

This is another picture of a typical summer squall and the cay. The worst part of the storm shifted north so we missed most of the rain, but suffered through the wind. We've had a lot of thunderstorms lately, but I still haven't managed to get any good lightning shots this year.


Posted June 17, 2009

We don't see many Trumpetfish while snorkeling. They are most common on deeper reefs, which is probably why we don't see many. They are experts at camouflage, often drifting near coral waiting for dinner to pass by.

                      We found this Trumpetfish hiding in Staghorn coral.


Posted June 17, 2009

Seaweed Blenny

Jake and I explored the Tide pools (Queen's Baths) today. The pool was full of juvenile Sharpnose puffers and had at least 6 small Balloonfish, both of which evaded my camera. We noticed a huge jump in the Seaweed blenny population. The Seaweed blenny's coloring is highly variable, though all our Seaweeds look the same.


A head on view of a Molly Miller (Scartella cristata). This particular blenny chewed on my fingers while I tried to photograph a small butterflyfish.


Posted June 17, 2009

My dad and I went snorkeling at Twin Coves. Even though the ocean was flat, the water was surprisingly murky. We still saw quite a bit, but nothing really big or exciting. On our way back, we ran into a Smooth trunkfish who posed perfectly for me.

Trunkfish and cowfish are often mixed up, however they're easily told apart. The cowfish has a forward facing spine above each eye, trunkfish lack these. Also, I've noticed that cowfish are more numerous on the Caribbean side, while trunkfish prefer the Atlantic.

                                   Smooth trunkfish - Lactophrys triqueter


Posted June 2, 2007

We've had an incredible amount of rain and wind lately. The sea side (Caribbean) of the island has been rough and murky for weeks now, so there has been no diving or fishing at our usual spots. Luckily the Atlantic side has had no swell and west winds which is good for diving over there, but we can't wait until the sea side clears up.

A short break from strong southwest winds. This is a picture of the cay; a thunderstorm is dissipating overhead.


Posted June 2, 2007

Jake and I found this Spotted eel out by the north point of Gaulding Cay. Spotted and Green eels are our most common eels. Normally Spotted eels hide in crevices and under rocks during daylight, but this one was out in the open. He must've been hungry; when I rested my fin near his hole, he started nibbling on it.


Posted May 21, 2009

We've been seeing less Lionfish these past few months. Hopefully their numbers are declining everywhere.

I found this Lionfish upside down on the ledge of a cave. It was rough that day and the waves were sending tiny bubbles into the cave which would rise and collect in small pockets. I snapped a picture of the Lionfish with his reflection from one of the air pockets.


Posted May 2009

During the summer months the reefs are loaded with juvenile fish. This year a few are showing up early. We're already seeing tiny, 1 inch groupers and we have seen a few small jack too.

A small Yellow Jack swam up to me while diving out front. Once these small jack find you they never stray more than a foot away. I was trying to photograph a tiny 1.5 inch Nassau Grouper, but every time I dove down the Yellow Jack would get in the way. I eventually gave up on the grouper and tried for the jack. It was nearly impossible to stop this jack from fidgeting, not even for 1/1000 of a second. Out of over 140 photos only a few were in focus, often I captured just his tail.
      At the end of the dive I swam the little jack over to our artificial reef to drop him off. The jack would've followed me all the way to shore and I didn't want him to get stuck inside of the sandbar during low tide. As soon as the reef was in sight, he deserted me and raced over to the school of French Grunts.


About 5 hours later, Jake and I went diving out front. We decided to check the artificial reef first. Right away the little Yellow Jack swam up to us. Jake scooped him up and put him in a container for transport to his fish tank. I made Jake promise that I could let him go for a while so I could take some picture though. I let him out while Jake was exploring a sponge bed. As soon as he was out, he went straight for Jake's mask. Most jack we see are a little bigger and much more wary. I don't think Jake was expecting such a tame fish and he liked the jack so much, that he decided he'd rather let it live in the ocean. The small jack followed us for the remainder of the dive, which was over 300 yards!


Posted May 5, 2009

Jake and I saw the school of permit while snorkeling out front. We have been watching them since they were about 2 inches long and we were excited to see them because we thought they had left. They moved from the center of the beach up to the northern end off the rocks. Unfortunately, Permit are not a common specie in the Bahamas.

This is a picture of one them from last year.


Ten months later. Look how much they've grown!


Posted May 5, 2009

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