• Subtropical and Marine Biology

Day 15: French Bay

French Bay:  Morning

We finally woke up this morning to the golden light of the sun filtering through the clouds. How marvelous it was! After three days of clouds and probable rain, we were all excited to get back in the water. We drove to the other side of the island where the water was calm (ish) and the sun lit up everything on the reef.

The first reef we swam across going out was pretty much dead, in terms of corals, but there were algae and small creatures aplenty. A little bit farther out was sand and turtle grass beds, littered with large conch shells and hermit crabs. And then there were the reefs.

We went out farther, snorkeling from patch to patch, but the water was just as clear as when we started. It seemed like everything out here was much bigger than we've seen at other reefs. One of the first fish I (Kari) saw was an ocean triggerfish, but it was a good foot and a half from nose to tail, much larger than others I've seen. Elkhorn coral branched everywhere like a large tree, shading the coral beneath.

When we started to swim back in, I saw the biggest Rainbow Parrotfish I had ever seen. Three feet long, at least, and I flailed to get Jen's attention before it swam too far. By the time Jen realized I was signalling her, and not just thrashing around in the water like a fish on land for the fun of it, the Parrotfish had swam under a coral shelf. Convinced that it's size wouldn't allow it to go too far, I dove down after it to get a better look, and hopefully a picture. Nothing. The half bright orange fish had disappeared. Disappointed, we continued towards shore, diving in and out of the reef canyons and checking shelves and ledges for any other interesting creatures. I saw it once more, and once again tried to get Jen's attention. Once again, she missed it. 

Four Foot Long Rainbow Parrotfish

Back on the beach, we all discussed what we saw as we warmed up in the sun. Dr. E. told us there would be parrotfish the size of cars (small cars, and mostly just the size of the trunk), but we didn't really believe him. (We have yet to see those wild cows.) Now however, many of us had seen the giant fish, and were super psyched about seeing more. They were mostly sighted in schools of 2 - 4, and got us excited to go out again after lunch.

Lunch at the Blow-Hole and Watling's Castle

We returned to the blow-hole for lunch once again, and successfully avoided all types of injury. The dark clouds that shadowed our last visit were replaced with a bright, warm sun that made the waves sparkle as they crashed into the rocky coast. While the geysers from the blow holes weren't as large as last time, they were still something pretty amazing to see.

After peanutbutter, jelly, cheese-product, mustard, and questionable lunchmeat sandwiches, we drove to Watling's Castle to explore for a bit before returning to the water. The "Castle" was the remains of three buildings (that we could see) that were once an old plantation belonging to the buccaneer John Watling. Nicole P. (Nub Nub) has a nice story of the story of the castle's history, if somewhat innaccurate, so you should ask her about it sometime. We found the oven, scaled the castle walls, and climbed through what was left of the windows, but did not find Watling's treasure. 

Watling's Castle

After Afternoon

We returned to French for a couple more hours of snorkeling and giant parrotfish sightings. Once again, Jen and I were the last ones out of the water (with Nub Nub this time), but the clas was chilling on the beach, so it's all good. Some went tidepooling, some wrote in their journals, some got buried. Again.

In any case, it was a marvelous day and we saw some marvelous things.

 

The Group at French Bay
Team Cubs Win just hanging out
Trevor D. and Nils J. doing the awkward model ON Watling's Castle
Doctor E's Mug Shot
Gargoyles in the Bahamas
sunny day...
angelfish
Nicole and pillar coal