23 May 2010

The Daily Routine

As Jessee mentioned, we're trying to keep in the habit of running. I don't really like doing it, but I do like having done it. It makes a world of difference in how you feel. For the last two days we've taken advantage of the fact that the water has been dead calm and, instead of just floating around at the dock to cool down, we went for a couple of long snorkels. Yesterday we swam around Dove Cay, and today we crossed the entire bay to Shark Alley. According to Google Maps, each route is about a mile.

View Snorkel Routes in a larger map

The water has gotten much warmer since the winter and it's really nice to be out there. The surface water was especially warm because there were no waves to churn things up, and the thermocline was especially distinct. The top 12 inches was probably 8° or 10° warmer than the water below that. It's just a shame it wasn't this flat when Jessee's family was here.

Dove Cay

We attached our shoes to the signal float. Yes, that is ocean water not pool water, by the way.

Jessee always pulls the float because she's the better swimmer.

There's some new Elk Horn Coral growth on the far side of Dove Cay.

A Massive Lobster

That's a nice leaf.

We saw this same "buddy pair" both days - a Sting Ray and a Bar Jack.

The swim across to Long Cay today was especially eventful. Well, actually, Shark Alley (the area at the tip of Long Cay) was. It never disappoints. We saw three turtles (two large Hawksbills and fairly large Green), 7 Eagle Rays, and a Reef Shark. The two Hawksbills had tags, and when they saw us they took off without looking back. I guess they recognized us. The Green turtle came swimming by while I was photographing the shark. I actually got both of them in a single frame. Shark Alley is really one of a kind. If you saw any single one of these animals in the Dominican Republic, it would be something to talk about. Here you're not even finished looking at one when another comes swimming by. This is really a special place.

We started at the dock for a more direct line across the bay.

Barracudas spend most of their time lurking.

It's a bit grainy, but the turtle is just behind the shark in the lower left.

Queen Triggerfish

There was an abandoned fish trap at Shark Alley with a Coney trapped inside. I decided I'd free him. Sometimes in rough weather traps get lost. Until all the bait is used up, they'll continue trapping fish, which simply die of starvation. It took about 10 breath-hold dives to get the gate open. I had to untie several knots and bend some wires, but eventually I did it.

The fish is in the top right corner.

Gate's Open

And the fish is free. You can see him swimming away to the left.

Yesterday afternoon we went for a dive too. Right off the boat we saw the biggest Snapper (a Dog Snapper, I think). It was probably 3.5 or 4 feet long, absolutely enormous for a commercially valuable species! I can't imagine what it weighed. It was a beast. Again, there aren't many places in the world where fish like this still exist.

Monster Snapper

This Cero Mackerel swam curiously around us for several minutes.

Jessee looking at her favorite fish, the Sharpnose Puffer.

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