Monday, March 17, 2008

North Shore Madracis Reefs, with Sleeping Turtle - On request

Went exploring a patch reef about 3 miles from shore, straight north of Tynes Bay last week, to show Ben Watson of LookBermuda the finger coral reefs. These reefs are totally different from the reefs in the outer lagoon and rim, in that they are mainly built by the finger corals of the genera Madracis. Some of these patch reefs can reach 30-ft tall, composed of a solid sheet of thousands of little coral fingers - presumably all one colony.

Tomtates, locally known as white grunts, thrive on the finger coral reefs, presumably because there are places to hide. The grunts also seem to think divers are just more reef as they will school around you when you are out there.

A broad view of a finger coral reef, with lots of wee grunts.

A close up of Madracis auretenra, long mis-named Madracis mirabilis, until Jan Locke et al wrote this paper last year.

Also common at the base of these reefs are branching corals of the genera Oculina. The image below is of one of the rarer species, called Oculina valenciennesi

Before we got in the water, Ben requested we see a sleeping turtle.

S0 - being the duteous host, I provided... We found a nice sized Hawksbill, who was content to watch Ben as he video-taped the drowsy reptile.

So - if you are in the mood for a novel dive in Bermuda, head just past the South Ships Channel off North Shore and scuba on one of the hundreds of finger coral reefs. The visibility is a bit low, but there are lots of fish and more coral species than you will see out on the forereef. Nice!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Bites on Marine Plastic Trash

Ok - this is scary. Judie Clee has been picking up plastic as she walks on the beach, and has collected a big bag full of pieces that clearly have BITES on them from some creature - although it is hard to say whether they are bites from turtles, fish, birds, or even squid!?!?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Sea Venture Dive

(first blog - trying it all out - whooooo)

In January Alex, Ben and I went out to dive on the "Sea Venture" intentional wreck, which is a new dive site in Bermuda next to Eastern Blue Cut. The seas were flat calm, although viability was rather poor.

On entering the water and descending the mooring rope the first thing we noticed was the wreck was covered in a thick furry layer of filamentous algae. Otherwise the wreck is sitting upright on the bottom and its many open windows and cut swim-throughs begged for exploration.

Once inside the main floor one of the first things we saw was a MASSIVE old black grouper, who clearly was at home on the wreck. Almost no other fish were around, which might be thanks to this big lad. Very glad the wreck is within the NO FISHING ZONE of EBC, so hopefully this great fish can provide entertainment for lots of tourists this summer.

We took a bunch of video and photos, after which I went over to the neighbouring reef, to see if it too was covered in algae and lacking parrotfish. Turns out it was not, with almost no algae on the top of the reef and a nice population of parrotfish and tangs as well as cow pollys and pudding wifes. Much less welcome was the LIONFISH, which was living in a cave near a nice sized school of white grunts and juvenile creole wrasse. Will have to get him removed, certainly!