Monday, June 7, 2010

Wonderland

We made arrangements with a tour operator to pick us up at the hotel and take us out to a beach area called Deadman’s Reef. The ride out to the island was entertaining, because we were driven by a garrulous old guy who filled us in on the history of the country, read street signs to us, and stopped to point out a dead duck by the side of the road.

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.

deadmans_reef


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.

curly_tail


We swam out in shallow water, across a broad expanse of what is called “turtle grass.”

turtle_grass


So naturally, we ran into this guy:

turtle


As the water became cooler and deeper, the turtle grass was replaced by sea fans.

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.

snorkle


When we got into shallower water, we saw corals such as these:

coral1


coral2


coral3


coral4


Sea urchins (which are nocturnal) had wedged themselves into every nook and cranny, arranging their spines to discourage visits from Jehova’s Witnesses.

urchin


But the real attraction was the huge assortment of fish. Some plain, but most brilliantly colored:

fish1


fish2


fish3


fish4


fish5


fish6


fish7


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?

great_gig

2 comments:

burton said...

Those are great pictures. Did you purchase a nice underwater photo kit? Is it an SLR camera or point and shoot? I especially like the last fish picture. Nice.

Tim said...

My wife bought a very cheap ($40) digital camera that came with an underwater housing. You can use it outside of the housing normally, or inside the housing underwater. Seeing the LCD screen underwater is not very easy, and the flash is weak (so if you're more than 10 feet down you have to be right on top of your subject). Taking pictures is kind of a point-and-pray kind of experience. But it's digital, so who cares if you take 50 pictures and throw away 47 of them?