Deadman’s Reef is quite beautiful and unspoiled. It sits about 200 yards offshore, and the rocky coral sticks up out of the water, forming small islands.
The tour operator had set up a small deck with a shady pavilion, an equipment shop, and a snack bar. An 8-inch long local lizard called a “curly tailed lizard” scampered around, looking for handouts.
We swam out in shallow water, across a broad expanse of what is called “turtle grass.”
So naturally, we ran into this guy:
As the water became cooler and deeper, the turtle grass was replaced by sea fans.
On the far side of the coral islands, the water drops off to about 30-40 feet. It was spectacular, festooned with colorful corals and sponges. I don’t have any pictures of the deepwater stuff, but the rocks were covered with what looked like the remnants of a decadent 16th century dinner party at Versailles, complete with candelabras.
When we got into shallower water, we saw corals such as these:
Sea urchins (which are nocturnal) had wedged themselves into every nook and cranny, arranging their spines to discourage visits from Jehova’s Witnesses.
But the real attraction was the huge assortment of fish. Some plain, but most brilliantly colored:
We rested on the shady deck and talked to the tour operator, a guy named Barry. He’s a tall, fit man around 35-40 years old who graduated from the University of North Carolina. In addition to operating the tour, he’s also the reef Warden (in the US, this would be a conflict of interest, but apparently not in the Bahamas). He shows up at this beautiful spot every day, and he’s been doing it for 17 years. He says he’s ready to retire, but retire to where?