Today's post comes from Randi.
I headed out to the shallows this afternoon to search for some relatively rare parrotfish species—mainly the rainbow parrotfish (Scarus guacamaia)—that are no longer typically seen on the reef. A year or so ago, I saw a pair of adults while snorkeling at this site, and I wanted to check in and see how they were doing. I found one, and also found an initial phase blue parrotfish! This is a hopeful sign. Big parrotfish used to be much more common here, and sighting them in the no-take marine reserve (new as of 2010) gives me hope that they will grow to be reproductive adults. [Learn about some of Randi's parrotfish research here.]
|Rare rainbow parrotfish spotted in the shallows – a sign of hope for a recovering reef.|
|Blue parrotfish seen by Randi|
There are lots of familiar things to love about a coral reef, but it’s also nice to be surprised. Some surprises, however, really get your heart pumping! Ian Gray (BBC film producer) and I came face-to-face with a rather large lemon shark (approx. 6 feet long) in water less than 6 feet deep. Perhaps it was just the shallow setting, perhaps it was because the shark came by us twice, perhaps because I am just not used to seeing big sharks in the water here… but I was definitely taken by surprise and certainly was on high alert. Luckily, my inner shutterbug was still working and I got a photo (proof of our encounter!).
|A 6-foot lemon shark surprises Ian and Randi on their snorkel|
Though we were looking for parrotfish, we found quite a lot of elasmobranchs on that snorkel. In addition to the lemon shark, we saw a sleeping nurse shark, the baby blacktips that have been living on the backreef, and some rays. Not too bad for a quick swim amidst the long hours of hermit-crabbing. ☺ Speaking of which, the crabs beckon.
|A bar jack hopes to catch a snack when this ray forages in the sand|
|A sleeping nurse shark hides from the mid-day sun|