Saturday, February 15, 2014

Underwater life under my eyes

Christmas Cove Treasures 

For the last month in St Thomas we have been very good about getting a routine of exercise. Thanks to that my neck is back to normal. But the island is too hilly and is not pedestrian friendly. The only flat place on the east end is the national park, where we walked about 20 minutes everyday. In the afternoon we drove to secret harbor, and swim for about an hour.

The best way to swim long distances is to entertain ourselves with some story until body and mind are disconnected from each other. At least that is what I do to keep on going. The other way is to entertain my eyes with the bottom. There is always something exciting going on.

The structures underwater are cover with life and offer shelter to fishes and lobster. We found six lobsters hiding under a tiny rock. As we dove to the bottom to look at them closer, one walked out of her spot and greet us shaking her antennas. I learned is not good to interact with the wildlife, but is good to let them know is no safe for them. Jim touched it and she immediately backed up. If it would be a fisherman she would be dead.

The amount of colorful fish swimming around the reef is nothing compared to what it used to be. The locals catch anything, from grouper to squirrel fish. And that is sad. The queen angel fish has this beautiful bright blues and yellow, we don't see those very often. But we found that turtles are gracious and smart. They have learn to sit still next to a rock and pretend they are under camouflage. "You can't see me" . I fancy they are saying. A lot of people chase them to take pictures, even try to touch them or just enjoy their presence a little bit longer. The truth is, turtles are not fish, they can breath underwater. If we follow them for too long they will go to the bottom to hide, and hold the air for a long time, when they are needing to surface and breath. The best we have learned to do is stop swimming and look at them while they go by and pretend "I can't see you, beauty".

We didn't find any lion-fish in secret harbor, but we saw one in Christmas Cove a few days ago. The curious thing for me is that 2 years ago they seem to look brownish and now every single one I have seen is black, They look almost like a sea urchin. I don't know if they mute or is a different specie. I saw one of those stinkers and alarmed Jim, we don't carry a spears with us, but is good to report. Jim disappear behind me and next thing I saw under was his huge body swimming with a big rock to attack the lion-fish. He let it go over the stoning fish and in a matter of a second that rock hit the bottom where the fish was and the fish had moved to the side of the big rock he was standing next to. That was so fast!

One of my favorite fish to watch while I'm snorkeling is the puffer fish. That round face, with tiny mouth and big round eyes is so cute. Their fences are little and they move with a funny grace, à mon avis. I see one and I can't help myself to go Japanese-cartoon-face underwater. We had seen a school of nine big ones. Yesterday a couple of the them swam back and forth along the ledge on front of us. They were different in color. We guessed a male and a female. He was chasing her everywhere, she looked like she was trying to get rid of him. "Oh, brown eye girl". Was he singing. "Do you want to be my valentine?"