Snorkeling the Reef


On Saturday I wasn’t quite scuba-diving ready; still a bit congested – but I was starting to salivate over the nearby barrier reef. From Dave and Noelle’s veranda you can see the waves breaking over the reef in the distance. I wanted to get into the water! So we decided to start slow – a snorkel one day and then a dive.

We ended up booking two tours on Friday night: a dive for Sunday (on the hope that I’d be well enough to go) and tickets for a Saturday 10:30am half-day snorkel trip to the Caye Caulker Marine Reserve from French Angel Expeditions. Our guide for the snorkel was Ash and he was pretty awesome.

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French Angel Expeditions snorkel shop

We arrived at the shop at 9:45am, paid up and then walked a short distance from the shop to Ash’s boat on the east side of the island. He threw in a couple of stops that I wasn’t aware we would be doing. The first was to look for sea horses by one of the docks. We came up short there, but our next stop was more productive: tarpon!

P1000080A tarpon swoops above the surface. Tarpon are big game fish, but protected. No eating!

Our first snorkel stop was Coral Gardens. This was my favorite location because it was the deepest area – maybe 25 feet deep. We eventually moved into VERY shallow reef, which wasn’t as fun for me; the fish are smaller, the water is hotter and I become very self-concious about not letting my clumsy human body interact with the fragile coral. But we did see some pretty cool fish while we were at Coral Gardens and I had a chance to try out our new underwater camera! P1000090

The Hubby puts on fins before jumping into the water. P1000096

Grouper P1000099

Gray Angelfish P1000110

This tour guide was gutsy. The wavey fish is a green morey eel and its nabbing fish that the guide has stuffed into a conch shell.  P1000117

TrunkfishP1000127

HUGE pufferfish! This guy was about half a foot across at the head and about a foot and a half long. P1000138

Blue Tang P1000142

Not sure…one to look up for later.

Our next stop was Shark & Ray Village. This was a no-fin swim. We got out of the boat into about four feet of water. French Angel had some chum and drew hordes of sting rays and nurse sharks to the boat. They would swim by us and their smooth skin would brush against our ankles and shins.

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Doesn’t this just scream SWOOSH!? P1000164

A nurse shark and several rays compete for chum. P1000183

A big barracuda looks on from near by the ray and shark chumfest.

Our last snorkel stop was The Swash, a shallow area of reef formations that we were encouraged to explore. I found this area to be much too shallow for my taste, but I did see some fun stuff while we were there.

P1000192A handful of fish hide on one side of coral.

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A mid-size barracuda, P1000202

Coral just below the water surface. P1000224

Our guide called this a sea egg anemone. It looks furry and was about the size of a small cantalope.P1000230

I haven’t found a name for this guy, but he sure was pretty! P1000236

A different kind of trunkfish, maybe?

I took a short video of a parrotfish swimming over some coral. It’s shakey, but you get the idea and the audio sounds neat. In all of the excitement I only remembered to take this one! If we go snorkeling again, I’ll definitely remember to get more video.

One sucky thing did happen while we were out. At one point during the dive I felt a hot sting on my chest, right under my left armpit. I pulled the suit away from my body and tried to rinse the area; I didn’t see anything and the skin wasn’t red. I finished the rest of the dive, but when I got out of the water it started to feel like I was getting bitten at random intervals at different spots all over my body, including under my fingernails, on my tongue and…well, let’s just say everywhere . It was the weirdest sensation and very uncomfortable. Noelle said it might be pika-pika, which people tend to complain a lot abouton the island. She said the sensation usually subsides after a night’s rest. I don’t know if it was really pika-pika, which is caused by the larvae of thimble jellyfish around here, because I never had a rash (which is typical).

I tried to nap, but then the pinches were all I could focus on. I walked the dogs with Noelle, and that was a little better, but every minute or so I’d be squirming in pain at the newest “bite”. Finally I decided the only solution was to get drunk and pass out. Noelle made me a big rum drink, then I made myself another, then we headed up the beach to drink at a fancy bar with wooden stools. Yeah, by that time its name was The Fancy Bar With Wooden Stools.

We came home later and I fell into a deep sleep; mission accomplished.The next morning my chest still stung at the site of what I think was the initial sting, but I wasn’t having the all-over biting sensation. Which was good, because as soon as I woke up I started packing for our scuba dive.

 

Comments

  1. Cathy says

    As someone who had never been snorkeling before, I found having the sting rays swim through my legs to be a blast! Thank you so much for sharing your trip.

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