Underwater Delights

Underwater Delights

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Shirley checking out the underwater delights.

Who hasn’t dreamed of being able to enter another world and be surrounded by the beautiful and the bizarre? One aspect of our cruising adventure that we had both looked forward to was checking out the underwater world of the Bahamas. About 30 years ago, Tim and I had backpacked (separately) through parts of the South Pacific. We both vividly recall the visceral thrill of entering into that foreign-to-us world of coral and tropical fish. When we first arrived in the Bahamas, in the areas we explored in the Abacos, we didn’t find much underwater life, although we weren’t looking too hard. The temperatures were a little cool to be able to stay in for any length of time without proper gear. We were told the Exumas, though, was the place to go. The Exumas would be amazing, with warm, clear water and lots of undersea life. Yes, the Exumas.

We’re hitting many of the marked snorkelling areas in the Exuma Land & Sea Park and also poking around other areas that look promising, in and outside the park.  The winds have continued to be exceptionally strong, so we’ve had to forego some sites that are a little too risky to get to. We’ll leave them for next time. We’ve put miles on our dinghy Poco and on our biceps, exploring. If we can find a large enough sandy spot that our anchor or rode won’t damage neighbouring coral, we’ll even drop Ariose’s hook for a few hours, don our snorkelling gear, and drop in.

Between Fowl Cay & Rocky Dundas.

Coral site near Rocky Dundas.

Neither of us are strong swimmers, nor have much experience in the water, so we’re a little tentative. My heart (Shirley speaking) still pounds when I think of an incident from 3 decades ago in Fiji, when a large shark came out of the depths directly at me and my ex-husband only to turn at the last minute to skim by at arm’s length. Later we discovered that animals had been slaughtered to feed a village gathering, and their entrails dumped in the water adjacent to where we were snorkelling. Yikes! Anyways, that’s another story from another adventure a lifetime ago. Tim and I are finding that each time we go in, the undercurrent of anxiety we carry with us is diminishing and the excitement about what we’re discovering grows.

Some areas, though, have been disappointing. Although it’s a lot of fun poking around underwater and finding anything of interest, many areas seem to be struggling for survival, with much of the coral dead and silted over. The few solitary fish, looking like the last hold-outs, dart for cover as we invade their space. We hadn’t seen anything close to what we remember from snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef, Fiji, the Cook Islands … maybe the passage of time has exaggerated our memories of those experiences? Perhaps in part. We do suspect though, that what we’re seeing or rather what we’re not seeing is a result of lots of factors that have taken their toll on life beneath the surface: global warming, pollution, over-fishing, boaters dropping & dragging anchors… We even wonder since this is a part of the world that regularly gets hit by hurricanes, if the resulting volumes of soil being washed into the water (especially since the Bahamian forests have been decimated by logging), if some reefs never get a solid chance to take hold.

“Bingo!”

One day, after a vigorous row from our anchorage at Cambridge Cay against current out to a rocky islet, Tim was first to get his mask and fin on. No, that’s not a typo. That’s fin, singular – the other donated overboard a few days earlier. Perhaps Neptune was pleased with the offering and decided to reward us. Tim dunked under, came up to shout “bingo”, and was gone. Finally! We had found healthy, vibrant life, in warm crystal clear water. It was like we were swimming in an aquarium that stretched to eternity. Spectacular.

 Another absolutely amazing experience for us has been the caves. At the first one, Thunderball Grotto, close to Staniel Cay, we had no idea what to expect. We swam in and then came up to find that we had been transported into an ethereal world. Light was reflecting from submerged openings in the rock, flooding through the clear water, and a brilliant spotlight beamed down from above. It felt like sacred space. What a moving experience. The other caves we swam at Rocky Dundas have been equally awe-inspiring.

Looks like promising coral.

Looks like promising coral.

This is definitely a post where we think our photos will do a far better job than our words could possibly achieve in sharing a glimpse into the amazing underwater world of the Exumas. Grab your snorkelling gear, join us at the water’s edge, take a deep breath & jump in with us …


You know the routine – click on the 1st photo in the gallery to enlarge it, then use the arrows to scroll through the slideshow.


Hope you enjoyed snorkelling with us. If you’re interested in sharing, we’d love to hear about your underwater experiences.

Until next time, we’ll leave you with this marine interaction we witnessed:

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“You make fun of my make-up again,” said the Queen Triggerfish to the Squirrelfish, “and I’ll give you another shiner!”

 

 

 

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12 Comments
  • Deb MacDougall-PUltz

    May 10, 2017 at 22:24 Reply

    Wow this is amazing and breath-taking! These will be memories that will carry you through a lifetime! Your dream come true and so well deserved! Not sure I would trust the barracudas locals have told me stories…also, I am surprised you passed up on that Lobster dinner, it looked scrumptious!! , Great opportunity to ¨live off the land¨ as they would say, but in your case the water!! Keep enjoying this awesome chance of a lifetime and be safe! Take care, miss ya xoxo

    • admin

      May 11, 2017 at 19:29 Reply

      That lobster was big enough that it looked like it could have had us for dinner! And on the topic of who is eating whom, will heed your warning about the barracuda – a.k.a. Pike on steroids. I’ve been able to chase the smaller ones away, but there’s been a couple of biggies that hold their ground, er water, staring me down with that fierce leer… for those, I’ll concede defeat and climb back on board!

  • Kathy Hollick

    May 10, 2017 at 22:55 Reply

    So thankful that you are sharing your amazing adventure! I just love the pictures and as always your commentary is superb. Looking forward to the next update.
    Cheers!

    • admin

      May 11, 2017 at 19:33 Reply

      It really has been amazing, and as I’m sure we’ve said before, being able to share it with you and everyone else who’s reading along really adds another dimension to the whole experience (not to mention that he blog will be a great memory aid should dementia try to steal these memories from us someday).

  • Jm

    May 13, 2017 at 16:02 Reply

    Thrilled that there is zoom capabilities for one non fish picture

    • admin

      May 14, 2017 at 13:15 Reply

      So you noticed the not-so-rare Bahamian noon full-moon I gather? >S

      • Jm

        May 16, 2017 at 19:39 Reply

        It was worth getting the cataracts removed

        • admin

          May 18, 2017 at 14:42 Reply

          I’m not sure I agree with that, Julie. 50+ year old bodies can do well with a little air brushing effect from foggy lenses! Hope your cataract surgery went smoothly. >S

  • Deb MacDougall-PUltz

    May 14, 2017 at 22:00 Reply

    I spoke to a friend of ours last night who lives in the Bahamas, she was saying they do ¨stare you down¨ which can be intimidating. She takes off anything shiny like jewelry etc as apparently they don´t see very well, and shiny objects attract them, and they mistake it for food fyi.

    • admin

      May 15, 2017 at 17:31 Reply

      Good advice!
      Had to dive on our anchor today to detangle a line, and wouldn’t you know it, there’s a barracuda hovering a few feet away from the anchor, looking like he’s waiting for me. If I didn’t know better I would say that he’s the culprit that wrapped line around the shaft… a form of people bait to lure us down.

  • Deb MacDougall-PUltz

    May 17, 2017 at 23:00 Reply

    LMAO, they are smart eh?? lol lol

    • admin

      May 18, 2017 at 14:25 Reply

      But not smart enough for this chick!

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